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US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was detained by customs for being Muslim

'Even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn't change how you look and how people perceive you,' top athlete says

Will Worley
Thursday 09 February 2017 10:52 GMT
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Ibtihaj Muhammad represented Team USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics
Ibtihaj Muhammad represented Team USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics (AFP/Getty)

America’s first hijab wearing Olympian, Ibtihaj Muhammad, has revealed she was detained at US customs - and suggested it happened because she is a Muslim. The incident happened prior to President Trump's travel ban coming into force.

The fencer, 31, shot to fame during the Rio Olympics for wearing a hijab and winning a bronze medal for Team USA.

"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 told Popsugar.

London protests against US President Donald Trump's travel ban

“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.”

Ms Muhammad, a New Jersey native, has previously expressed her opposition to Mr Trump’s policies.

Last week, she posted a picture to Instagram depicting the Statue of Liberty hugging a Muslim child. It was captioned: “Our diversity is what makes us strong #NoBanNoWall.”

In addition, Ms Muhammad said during the Olympics she didn't feel safe in America because of anti Muslim rhetoric in the country.

This has become more vigorous since Mr Trump took office, with new travel restrictions widely branded a 'Muslim ban'.

Signed on 27 January, the order banned nearly all travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and has prompted widespread protests.

It applies to people from Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. The order also suspended the country's refugee global programme before being temporarily halted after eight days by federal judge James Robart.

The US appeals court is now hearing the government’s case in favour of reinstating the ban.

* This article originally reported that the alleged incident involving Ms Muhammad occurred after President Trump's travel ban. In fact it happened in December. We apologise for the error.

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