The Trump effect: Hijab-clad US Olympic medal winner detained

Ibtihaj Muhammad (Image Credit: New Jersey Fencing Alliance)

Kolkata: American Olympic fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad said she was left in tears after allegedly being detained at US Customs and Border Protection for two hours. The fencer, 31, shot to fame during the Rio Olympics for wearing a hijab and winning a bronze medal for Team USA. She said she was devastated when she was detained by airport authorities. The incident comes after US President, Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel from seven largely Muslim countries causing chaos in US airports.

Muhammad, a New Jersey native, has previously expressed her opposition to Trump’s policies. “I was held at customs for two hours just a few weeks ago. I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name,” she said. “And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you. Unfortunately, I know that people talk about this having a lot to do with these seven countries in particular, but I think the net is cast a little bit wider than we know. And I’m included in that as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab.”

Muhammad’s comments have come during a time of an evident political divide within the country over Trump’s ban on refugees and visa holders entering the country from seven Muslim majority nations. She said the incident was so upsetting that it left her in tears.

“My human response is to cry because I was so sad and upset and disheartened and just disappointed,’ she said. But Muhammad decided to speak out on behalf of others ‘who may not be able to find that strength.’ She urged people to ‘stand in solidarity’ and support other people outside of their own communities. Several thousands from over the world have protested against President Trump’s immigration order.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times and The Independent)



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