The Islamophobic backlash to Ibtihaj Muhammad's Olympic remarks

Published August 10th, 2016 - 01:31 GMT
African American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. (AFP photo)
African American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. (AFP photo)

Comments made by an American-Muslim Olympian have sparked an angry, Islamophobic backlash online and particularly on social media. 

Speaking in Rio de Janeiro, US fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad said she feels unsafe as a Muslim in the US. “I had someone follow me home from practice and try to report me to police,” she said. “And this is right on 28th and 7th in New York City.”

"[These racist incidents] don't come even close to things we've seen like the shooting in North Carolina [where a white man killed three Muslim students last year] or the rhetoric around the Khan family at the DNC [Democratic National Convention],” Muhammad said.   

“It's ridiculous and we as a country have to change and I feel like this is our moment,” she added.

Muhammad, who is African American, was born in New Jersey. Her father was a narcotics detective, also from New Jersey, and her mother was a special education teacher, according to The New Yorker.

Muhammad is now the first American Olympian to compete wearing a hijab

Angry Internet users immediately pounced on Muhammad’s comments, saying she should be grateful to be in America.   

“[I'm] glad you lost [to France's Cecilia Berder], and then bashing [the] usa. you dont feel safe stay in rio or go to iraq HIPOCRITE…” said one Twitter user.  

“America IS NOT her country. These are the people Democrats are letting in and want more of. America haters,” wrote one user on Facebook

"Watched a video of a woman in a hijab executed by IS on the street, talk about 'unsafe,'" said another. 

"Wearing hijab in western countries is not about piety, rather narcissism and tribalism," wrote Hotep Munkhaus on Twitter, garnering five "likes" for the comment. 

Although she's American, Muhammad kept getting attacked by people claiming she's not: 

“@ibtihajmuhammad you're not a American, subhuman”

Not everyone was so negative, though. 

“I will never be silent on the subject, hijab is a symbol of oppression not liberation,” one user wrote.   

So beautifull [sic], an inspiration for us, women from all the world," said another. 

-HS 


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