HS student from Ohio disqualified from cross country run for wearing hijab

Abukaram noticed that she was disqualified from the match after she crossed the finish line and did not see her name listed on the board.

A woman wearing a hijab [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A woman wearing a hijab [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Noor Abukaram, a junior at Sylvania Northview in Sylvania, Ohio, was disqualified from a cross country running competition at a meet last week for wearing her hijab during the race - as officials claimed it violated uniform codes.
Abukaram has worn her Nike sports hijab for the past three years of high school competition at Sylvania and has never experienced trouble before. However, when officials were performing uniform checks they started huddling with one another and allegedly began discussing Abukaram's uniform, according to WTOL11 News.
"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?'" Abukaram said.
However, instead of Abukaram being called out, her teammate was told that her shorts were "out of uniform" and that the student must change in order to compete. The officials did not address Abukaram directly, but instead allowed her to compete - only later to disqualify her after the race ended for wearing her hijab.
Abukaram noticed that she was disqualified from the match after she crossed the finish line and did not see her name listed on the board.
"And they were like, 'You got disqualified,' and I was like, 'For what?' and they were like 'For wearing your hijab,'" Abukaram 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. I think I was mostly embarrassed, because like I never expected that to happen.
Despite no prior warnings before the race, Abukaram's hijab did not follow the uniform codes, which allowed her to be disqualified from the meet. The Ohio High School Athletic Association requires coaches to accompany student athletes who need to apply changes to the uniform code with a waiver in order to compete at the high school level. Abukaram's parents and coaches were unaware of the rule, since she competed in three separate sports for over three years without experiencing any issues before, according to the report.
For the next meet Abukaram has a letter permitting her to wear her hijab during competition, and while she expressed happiness for being able to compete she expressed her dismay for needing to display the letter to officials at all - considering religious freedoms in the United States are meant to be inherent and respected.
"It's a part of me, I'm not going to take it off so I can run! I just don't want this to happen to anyone else, like any girls girls younger than me that are wearing hijab," she said. "I don't want them to ever have to worry or to have to write a letter so that they can go run."
WTOLL 11 reached out the the athletic association for comment. The association claimed that the officials were doing their correct due diligence by enforcing the rules, however, they were unclear as to why the officials did not notify Abukaram before the match.
Minnesota House Representative Ilhan Omar expressed her solidarity with Abukaram, saying that every rule that is ignorant of religious freedoms should be overturned.