SXSW has issued a public apology to a guest speaker after she was asked to remove her hijab.
Ibtihaj Muhammad – a member of the USA World Fencing team at the festival to speak on a panel, ‘The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life’ – was told to remove her hijab by festival staff for a photo on her ID badge, she tweeted on Saturday (March 12).
Tweeting soon after the incident, Muhammad said: “Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge.”
And when she did receive her badge, authorities had given her the wrong name:
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) March 12, 2016
SXSW said in a statement yesterday: “It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge. 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.”
New Jersey-born Muhammad is the first Muslim woman to compete for America in an international fencing competition.