Americas

Muslim girl disqualified after running cross country race for wearing a hijab

A Muslim schoolgirl who ran cross country race was disqualified after taking part – because she was wearing a hijab.

Noor Alexandria Abukaram's jubilation after she ran a personal best in the 5k challenge evaporated when she was told the bad news at her school in the US.

The 16-year-old took part in the race organised by Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) as a member of Sylvania Northview’s girls’ cross country team.

After beating her own record she found out about her disqualification when she noticed her scores were not included as part of her team's overall total.

According to the OHSAA she was disqualified because she needed to submit a waiver to wear the hijab, but Noor said at no point did an official tell her this even though she was checked before the race began.

She posted on Facebook: "I have been running for Sylvania Northview Highschool the entire season and wasn't told by any OHSAA officials about my "uniform violation" until the district meet.

"The officials did not give me the same respect that they gave my teammate who was also violating a rule when they told her to change her shorts and gave her the chance to fix herself.

"I wasn’t given the chance to explain myself to them because they didn’t have the decency to tell me what the issue was.

"I feel like my rights as an athlete were violated this weekend because this rule does not  exist in writing.

"I should not have to get a waiver signed and approved by OSAA to allow me to race due to my religious head covering. Hijabs are not specifically prohibited by OSAA rulings."

Noor told CNN she felt she was being disqualified because of something she loved.

She said: "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.

"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?"

Zobaida Falah, Noor's cousin, slammed the decision on a Facebook post.

She said: "The officials did not give her the courtesy of informing her of their problem with the hijab.

"Instead, they let her run the race thinking she was fine and after the race, while she was searching for her time alongside her teammates, she discovered her time wasn’t there.

"When she asked why, her teammates responded, “because of your hijab.”

Noor has received hundreds of supportive messages from Facebook users who are unhappy with her disqualification.

Steve Fusselman sposted: "Sorry you were disqualified. Totally unfair."

Yazzi Yas Rose posted: "So sorry you had to go through this. The world is becoming more intolerant by the day.

"The fact that a young girl was disqualified for a piece of cloth is a step backwards. We are supposed to be a civilised society. Well done for your hard work and resilience. Proud of you."

A spokesman for OHSAA, told CBS News: "The official was simply enforcing this rule since a waiver had not been submitted.

"After the race, the OHSAA communicated with the school, which then submitted a waiver request.

"The request was approved immediately, which will permit the student-athlete to compete this weekend at regional competition."

OHSAA added it may "modify the regulation in the future, so that religious headwear does not require a waiver."

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