Ibtihaj Muhammad on the destiny of Muslim women In sports

Ibtihaj Muhammad is unlike any other athlete we’ve got visible before—and that is not simply due to the fact she’s one of the nice fencers in the international. Whilst Muhammad—an observant Muslim (and one in all Times one hundred maximum Influential humans this 12 months, NBD)—heads daily Rio this summer, she’ll be the first American day-to-day rep group u.s.a. while sporting a hijab. But she’s hoping she may not be the final.My General

“A massive a part of why I’m so worried in sport has every day do with the small numbers of Muslim ladies who do put on the hijab who are concerned in sports on the elite level,” explains Muhammad, who has joined VISA’s roster of Olympic-bound athletes beneath the platform of recognition and inclusion. (test out other Muslim ladies in sports in our 20 Iconic sports Moments featuring girl Athletes.)

“I don’t forget in 2011 someone mentioned day-to-day me that I used to be the first Muslim female everyday put on the hijab to symbolize team united states on the global stage. With qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, I desired daily further mission that belief that Muslim girls and ladies do not take part in sports or are not involved in sports on the elite stage. I desired Muslim ladies every day recognize they may be part of group usa.”

Muhammad explains lack of know-how is a large difficulty Muslim girls—mainly younger girls—face on this united states of america. “In American society, we’re not necessarily constantly every day the harassment and bullying that Muslim women specifically face in school for wearing the hijab,” she says.

I recognise that even for myself growing up it turned into very, very dayeveryday every day be special from anybody else and every day put on the hijab after which on pinnacleeveryday of that be involved in a game in which it is traditionally a lot of white guys,” she says. “I appeared extraordinary from all and sundry else so I wasn’t automatically time-honored and i used to be challenged every day my race and my ethnicity. That’s something i have been challenged with for my complete profession.”

She is going directly to give an explanation for that “it’s no longer pretty much wearing a piece of cloth in your head,” however rather constantly being out of uniform in an experience—”if your teammates wear shortsleeves, you put on longsleeves, and in the event that they wear shorts, you wear pants. You’re continuously being questioned for being distinct and daily be really day-to-day. A number of instances, it’s a deterrent for a number of Muslim girls day-to-day even day-to-day be on sports activities groups.”

While an elite athlete, Muhammad is no stranger everyday blatant discrimination (which she additionally calls out on her Twitter account)—she recollects that she become even asked everyday cast off her hijab only some months in the past at SXSW in Texas. “My initial response was every day snicker. I concept perhaps he changed into kidding at the beginning. however, he endured, even when I explained it turned into for spiritual motives, he saved saying, ‘well, everyone wishes every day dispose of their hat,’ basically like I wasn’t special,” she says inside the video underneath.