Hijab-Wearing Teenage Athlete 'Overwhelmed' By Support After Being Disqualified
Noor Alexandria Abukaram has shared her "gratitude" for the encouragement she's received since being disqualified from her cross-country race for wearing the religious covering without getting prior clearance to do so.
After running her 5 kilometre personal best this past weekend, Abukaram found out her coach was supposed to have submitted a waiver for her to wear the hijab.
The Ohio high school athlete said in a lengthy post on her cousin's Facebook account that she had only been told her attire was against the rules after crossing the finish line.
Her coach told local media he made a mistake by not getting the waiver, but he didn't think it was needed because no one had raised the issue at her previous 10 races.
The incident sparked viral online conversation about dress codes and discrimination. The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) said in a statement they were looking into changing religious waiver rules for next season.
In an emotional Instagram post on Friday local time, Abukaram, 16, thanked people for their outpouring of support.
"Before all of this, I felt crushed, betrayed by a sport that I have grown to love so dearly," she wrote.
"I am so thankful to each and every person who has shown me love and support. You guys don’t realise what that did for me, so thank you!"
Abukaram said she felt "like a clown running that race" especially since officials decided to say nothing to her beforehand, she said in a BBC interview.
On Wednesday, Abukaram's cousin, Zobaida Falah, allowed her to detail the experience via her Facebook account. Falah then added a final note that read: "It’s 2019, we’ve had a hijab wearing women represent America in the Olympics. How are we still being discriminated against due to religious head covering?"
The post, which was made public and shared over 3000 times with 2300 likes, displayed a strong showing of support in the comments section.
The first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics, Ibtihaj Muhammad, offered her support.
"Most people don’t realise the hurdles we have to jump over as hijabi athletes just for the same opportunities to compete like everyone else," she wrote.