“I can't tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I'm Muslim. I have an Arabic name."
In an interview with Popsugar on Tuesday, US Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad expressed her disappointment at US President Donald Trump’s "Muslim ban," and revealed that she had recently been detained at US Customs with no explanation, and was “sad and upset and disheartened” by this treatment.
“I can't tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I'm Muslim. I have an Arabic name. 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 said.
The incident happened "a few weeks ago," although it is unclear whether it came before or after Trump's inauguration as president.
Muhammad’s comments came after her appearance at the Makers conference, held to celebrate the achievements of pioneering women.
New Jersey-born, Duke-graduate, US Olympic medalist held by US customs for two hours. Why - Because she's Muslim? https://t.co/Rxn85bsM5B
— Indira Lakshmanan (@Indira_L) February 9, 2017
Ibtihaj Muhammad represents the US as a fencer - she became the first female Muslim American to win a medal for the United States and the first American athlete to wear the hijab while competing in the Olympics at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.
(Ibtihaj Muhammad is first American Olympic athlete to wear a hijab/AFP)
Muhammad, a Duke graduate, won bronze with the US Women’s Sabre Team. Ranked number 7 in the world, she also won gold with Team USA at the 2014 Senior World Championships.
Support for Ibtihaj
Muhammad's revelation sparked support for the athlete, most notably from Congressman Donald Payne Jr., who defended Muhammad, a member of his district.
.@IbtihajMuhammad, from Maplewood, NJ, in my district, is an AMERICAN Olympic bronze medalist. Ibtihaj is also Muslim.
— Rep. Donald Payne Jr (@RepDonaldPayne) February 9, 2017
Senator Bob Menendez also took to Twitter to denounce Trump’s "Muslim ban" and Muhammad’s treatment
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) February 9, 2017
People also complained that, though Muhammad brought prestige to her country during the Olympics, she is still discriminated against in her own country because of her appearance and faith. Fellow Olympian Hope Solo was among those who spoke out:
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) February 9, 2017
And Greg Pinelo, democratic strategist, blamed Donald Trump directly for her treatment