Noor Alexandria Abukaram ran a personal-best time in a cross-country meet last Saturday. Then the 16-year-old Ohio high school student found out her race didn’t count.
Abukaram was disqualified from her team’s meet for wearing a hijab while in competition. A practicing Muslim who attends private Islamic school in Sylvania, Ohio, Abukaram competes in athletics for the local public school, Northview High School.
“It was like your worst nightmare to have to compete and then find out that you got disqualified, and it’s because of something that you love,” Abukaram told CNN. “Why should you have to sacrifice your religion and a part of who you are to run, to do another thing that you’re very passionate about?”
Abukaram told several news media outlets she had competed in six meets this season without any problems. She also said officials did not address her hijab immediately after the race. Meet officials told her that her coach ultimately didn’t fill out the correct paperwork.
“When (her coach) told me that, I was like, what do you mean I have to have a signed waiver for me to race?” she told The New York Times. “They don’t have to prepare anything special for me, I don’t have any disabilities, I am just running just like anybody else. When he said that I didn’t think, ‘Oh, Coach, why didn’t you do this?’ I thought, ‘Why do we even have to do this in the first place?’”
Cross country athlete Noor Alexandria Abukaram was disqualified for wearing a hijab during a race.
In an emotional Facebook post, Abukaram wrote, in part: “I feel like my rights as an athlete were violated this weekend. ….I should not have to get a waiver signed and approved by OSAA to allow me to race due to my religious head covering.”
Tim Stried, a spokesman for the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), told USA TODAY in a statement Friday that the organization had been examining the rule and was considering dropping the waiver requirement.
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