Ibtihaj Muhammad, a Female Muslim-American fencer who won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, was recently detained without explanation for two hours at U.S. Customs.
Muhammad, a native of Maplewood, New Jersey, said she was unsure if her detention was a result of President Trump’s recent executive order that has been called the “immigration ban”.
She spoke on her experience with website Popsugar at a speaking engagement at the MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
“I don’t know why,” said Muhammad. “I can’t tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you.”
Muhammad is a graduate of Duke University and was also the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab. She continued to share her emotional reaction to her troubling experience.
“My human response is to cry because I was so sad and upset and disheartened and just disappointed,” she said. “At the same time, I’m one of those people who feels like I have to be strong for those people who may not be able to find that strength. I feel like I have to speak up for those people whose voices go unheard. It was a really hard two hours, but at the same time, I made it home. I try to remember to be positive and to try to leave all these situations, even if they may be very difficult, with love. I think that we will come out on top as women, as people of color, as Muslims, as transgender people, as people who are part of the disabled community I think that we’ll come out on top.”
Even after dealing with the anguish of being profiled, she still exuded class and did not comment negatively on the commander-in-chief, but did in fact imply she has numerous issues with the new administration when asked about her thoughts on Donald Trump.
“I feel like that’s a loaded question,” she said. “I’m not really sure how to answer that. It’s like, where do I start?”