US Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was held by Customs

Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first female Muslim American to medal for the United States in the Olympics, said Tuesday she was recently detained at U.S. Customs for two hours without explanation.

Muhammad, who is a native of Maplewood, N.J., said she didn’t know if she was held as a result of the Trump administration’s travel ban but is sure the move was a result of her ethnicity.

"I don't know why," she told the web site Popsugar during a speaking engagement at the MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. "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, who graduated from Duke, won bronze in team sabre at the Rio Olympics last year. She was also the first American to compete in an Olympics wearing a hijab.

"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."

And if she could say one thing to President 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?"

USA TODAY


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