On Saturday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar used Twitter to speak out in support of a high school student in Ohio that was disqualified from a cross-country race because she wore a hijab.
Sixteen-year-old Noor Abukaram is a runner for Northview High School in Sylvania, Ohio. On Saturday she competed in a high-school sanctioned 5k race. After completing the race she was informed that her time would not be counted.
Abukaram told local media that before the race, her teammate had been warned that her shorts were not in accordance with the required uniform and that she needed to change in order to run. Abukaram adds that she was not informed that her hijab was out of uniform until after she had raced and was disqualified.
Omar voiced her support of Abukaram in a tweet on Saturday.
“Hijab-wearing women and girls don’t need permission to exist…Noor ran her personal best this season, only to be told it didn’t count because she made the choice to wear a hijab…I’m standing with her. Every rule that is ignorant of religious freedom must be overturned,”” Omar tweeted.
Hijab-wearing women and girls don’t need permission to exist.
Noor ran her personal best this season, only to be told it didn’t count because she made the choice to wear a hijab.
I’m standing with her. Every rule that is ignorant of religious freedom must be overturned. https://t.co/rbGMhgNZ3T
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 26, 2019
Abukaram ran her personal best during the 5k crossing the finish line at 22:22 reports the Toledo Blade.
“My heart dropped,” Abukaram recalled. “I felt like something horrible happened to me, something that I always thought could happen, but never has happened. I think I was mostly embarrassed, because like I never expected that to happen.”
Abukram is a high school junior and now requires a letter authorizing her to wear a hijab when she races. The Ohio High School Athletics Association doubled down on their decision to disqualify Abukaram from last week’s race.
“Cross country runners may participate in competitions with religious headwear, provided the runner has obtained a waiver from the OHSAA and submitted to the head official before the race since it is a change to the OHSAA uniform regulations,” stated OHSAA Communications Director Tim Stried.
“It’s a part of me, I’m not going to take it off so I can run!” Abukaram said. “I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else, like any girls—girls younger than me that are wearing hijab. I don’t want them to ever have to worry or to have to write a letter so that they can go run.”
Reportedly the OHSAA is considering revising the rules about the religious waiver.
“The OHSAA is also already looking at this specific uniform regulation to potentially modify it in the future, so that religious headwear does not require a waiver,” Stried stated.
Abukuram says that she has filed a waiver that will allow her to wear a hijab in order to compete.