American Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad was told to remove her hijab before speaking at SXSW

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Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympic athlete and guest speaker at South by Southwest this year, said on Saturday that she was asked by a volunteer at the festival to remove her hijab before being allowed to enter and give her talk.

Muhammad, an elite fencer, is set to become the first woman in a hijab to represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro later this year. She first tweeted Saturday afternoon that a volunteer had refused to issue her an ID badge with her hijab on:


And soon after tweeted that she was finally issued an ID—but with the wrong name on it:

At her talk, "The New Church: Sport As Currency of American Life," Muhammed told the audience about her experience, saying it was unfortunately not unusual:

"I had a crappy experience checking in," she said. "Someone asking me to remove my hijab isn't out of the norm for me. … Do I hope it changes soon? Yes, every day."


The festival later apologized for the incident and said the volunteer who demanded that she remove her hijab was going against SXSW policy, and had been removed from the position for the rest of the festival.


"This was one volunteer who made an insensitive request and that person has been removed for the duration of the event. We are embarrassed by this and have apologized to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident," SXSW organizers said in a statement.