Alwaght- A Muslim high school student from Ohio was disqualified from a cross country race earlier this month for wearing a hijab.
The 16-year-old, Noor Alexandria Abukaram, was signed up to participate in a race with the Sylvania Northview High School Girls Cross Country Team over the weekend, a team she has been a part of for the past three years.
However, after finishing the race, Abukaram found out she was disqualified because of her religious headwear, something she said she “always feared”.
According to Noor, who recalled the incident via her cousin’s Facebook, the team’s uniforms were being checked by Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) officials ahead of the race when a teammate was asked to change her shorts to match the rest of the runners.
“Immediately, I began to wonder if they were going to call on me next since I was wearing all black pants and hijab,” Abukaram wrote. “I have been a student athlete my entire life, and every time we compete, the thought crosses my mind during uniform checks.”
Officials did not call on Abukaram, but they did speak to her coach, Jeffery Flowers, and informed him that Abukaram would not be allowed to qualify unless she removed her Nike sports hijab - a conversation that was not relayed to the student before the race began.
Since the disqualification last weekend, Flowers got the waiver letter approved and Abukaram will be competing in the regionals this Saturday. She says both her coach and teammates have been incredibly supportive. "I have the best team in the world and I couldn't ask for a better coach," she said.
The number of Islamophobic incidents in the United States has spiked following the election of President Donald Trump, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim advocacy group.
Critics say that Trump’s rhetoric and policies against Muslims before and after his election has emboldened far-right groups and promoted anti-Muslim hate crimes across the country.
Some scholars say Trump’s travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries was aimed at spreading Islamophobia and demonizing Muslims.