Friday, February 10, 2017


Maplewood Olympic hero and Columbia High School graduate Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was detained for two hours last month by U.S. customs officials, according to The Washington Post.

The Post, citing comments she gave this week to, said she was not specific about what occurred, but said she was not given a reason and believe it had to do with her Muslim background.

See part of their story below:

Muhammad did not say where she had been traveling, stating only that she was held “just a few weeks ago.” Nor did she specifically link the holdup to President Trump’s travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“I can’t tell you why it happened to me,” she said in an interview with the website Popsugar during the Makers Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., “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 was the first American Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab and won a bronze medal in team sabre in Rio. Her airport experience made her more determined than ever to stay positive, she said.
“My human response is to cry because I was so sad and upset and disheartened — and just disappointed. 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.”

Read the entire report HERE.

It appears the incident occurred before President Donald Trump's recent travel ban that targeted seven mostly Muslim countries, and was recently blocked by court order. Still, Muhammad said she believes the entire anti-immigrant focus likely sparked the action.

Muhammad, of course, drew international attention last summer when she won a bronze medal for fencing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and became the first Olyimpian to compete in a hijab.

Maplewood turned out in force to honor her months ago during a township-wide celebration, while she was named's Maplewoodian of the Year for 2016.

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