An American competing in the Olympic Games says she fears for her safety back home. Speaking today in Rio de Janeiro, said that as a Muslim, “[I feel unsafe] all the time.” Ibtihaj Muhammad is a Muslim woman and the first American to compete in the Olympic Games dressed in traditional Muslim attire. She blames un-Islamic statements back home for contributing to her fears. “I had someone follow me home from practice and try to report me to the police,” she said. "And this is right on 28th and 7th in New York City.
The young Muhammad said, “I want people to know that as hard as [these racist incidents] are on me, they don’t come even close to things we’ve seen like the shooting in North Carolina or the rhetoric around the Khan family at the [Democratic National Convention].”
Born in Maplewood, New Jersey, Muhammad says she wants to speak about issues affecting Muslim women in the United States. “I’m very vocal about these things because I want people to know I’m not a novelty, I’m not special in any way,” she said.
“I’m a woman who wears a hijab, and these are my experiences. It’s ridiculous and we as a country have to change and I feel like this is our moment.”
When she was asked about Donald Trump, Muhammad laughed and said, "Who? I’m sorry, what did you say? I don’t know him.” However, she shared her concerns about Trump and his rhetoric.
“I think his words are very dangerous,” she said in an interview on CNN. "When these types of comments are made, no one thinks about how they really affect people.”
“I’m African-American, I don’t have another home to go to. My family was born here. I was born here. It’s like, where do we go?”
Muhammad ranks second in the United States and eighth worldwide in her sport. She will compete in the women’s individual and team fencing events next week.
Spero News columnist Martyn Drakard is a freelance writer who lives in East Africa.