“I was disqualified from something that I love to do because of something that I love,” 16 year-old Noor Abukaram passionately explains to the Washington Post. “Because of something that’s a part of me.”
Noor’s story recently went viral on social media which recounted how after competing in a cross country race — and achieving her best time — she then learned that she was disqualified because she did not have a waiver to wear her hijab. Noor, a junior at a high school in Ohio, explains how she proudly wears her Nike sport hijab when competing and that the athletic hijab has never been an issue before.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association says it wasn’t singling out Noor but was just enforcing its rules. The rules say that students need a waiver to run in “religious headwear” and Noor’s school had failed to request one. After the race, a waver was immediately approved for Noor to compete in an upcoming race (an important one, regionals).
Noor says the decision to strike her time out was “still hurtful” and she wants the waiver requirement dropped. Noor’s coach, Jerry Flowers, concurs. “My hope is that this incident highlights how detrimental this rule can be and spurs positive change for our sport,” says Coach Flowers.