AUSTIN, Texas — A ‘South by Southwest’ volunteer has been dismissed and festival organizers apologized after an US Olympic fencer who is Muslim was asked to remove her headscarf in order to get a credential.
’South by Southwest’ registration official Amin Simms said in an emailed statement that it was “an insensitive request” and against the festival’s policy to ask Ibtihaj Muhammad to remove her hijab Saturday at the Austin festival. Muhammad couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Simms wrote that festival organizers apologized to Muhammad and that they were embarrassed by the situation.
Muhammad is set to compete for the US at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
South by Southwest is a major festival of film, interactive media, and music.
“I can’t make this stuff up,” Ibtihaj Muhammad Tweeted. On Saturday, she appeared on a panel called “The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life.” “I had a crappy experience checking in,” she said.
“Someone asking me to remove my hijab isn’t out of the norm for me. … Do I hope it changes soon? Yes, every day.”
Earlier, Muhammad tweeted that SXSW registration personnel asked her to remove her headscarf to have her picture taken for her badge, even after she explained that she wore it for religious reasons.
US passport rules permit a headscarf in an ID photo when the wearer provides a letter stating it is worn for religious reasons.