High school cross-country runner disqualified for wearing hijab

A high school cross-country runner in Ohio says she was disqualified from a recent race for wearing a hijab. 

High school junior Noor Abukaram told local TV station WTOL that she was informed after her most recent meet that she had been disqualified for wearing the hijab. 

{mosads}Abukaram told the Toledo TV station that wearing her Nike sport hijab had not been a problem the past three years, but during a uniform check beforehand, she saw officials having a discussion, which she assumed was about the garment.

“And in the back of my mind, I was like ‘Are they going to say something about my hijab? Or about my uniform because it is different?'” Noor said.

Instead, her teammate was told that she had to change her shorts. Noor said officials did not say anything about the hijab, but she noticed that her name was not on the board after the race. 

“And they were like, ‘You got disqualified,’ and I was like, ‘For what?’ and they were like, ‘For wearing your hijab,'” she said. 

“And, like, my heart dropped. I felt like something horrible happened to me, something that I always thought could happen, but never has happened,” she continued. “I think I was mostly embarrassed because like I never expected that to happen.”

The Toledo Blade reported Thursday that the 16-year-old’s fastest 5K time this season, 22 minutes and 22 seconds, will not be counted.

Tim Stried, a spokesperson for the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), told The Hill in a statement Thursday that runners are required to submit a waiver if they want to wear religious headwear during a race. 

“The official was simply enforcing this rule since a waiver had not been submitted,” Stried said. 

He added that Abukaram’s school has since submitted a waiver request, which has been approved. 

“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,” he added. 

Tags high school sports Hijab Nike Ohio Track and Field

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