- The Washington Times - Friday, October 25, 2019

A 16-year-old, high school runner in Ohio had her personal best 5K time disqualified because she was wearing a hijab.

Noor Alexandria Abukaram, a student at Sylvania Northview private school, said that after she ran a personal best 5K of 22 minutes and 22 seconds during an event on Oct. 19, she realized her score wasn’t being displayed.

When she asked about what she thought was an error, her friends said her hijab led to the score being disqualified, which she said broke her heart.

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“I was sobbing,” Noor said to CNN. “I couldn’t even explain how difficult it was to explain to my father that I got disqualified for my hijab. It was so hard for me because my parents have been my No. 1 supporters when it comes to my hijab.”

She added: “It was like your worst nightmare to have to compete and then find out that you got disqualified, and it’s because of something that you love. Why should you have to sacrifice your religion and a part of who you are to run, to do another thing that you’re very passionate about?”

Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesman Tim Stried confirmed Noor was disqualified for her hijab but said it was because she didn’t submit a waiver to wear it.

“Cross country runners may participate in competitions with religious headwear, provided the runner has obtained a waiver from the OHSAA and submitted it to the head official before the race, since it is a change to the OHSAA uniform regulations,” Mr. Stried said. “The official was simply enforcing this rule since a waiver had not been submitted.”

While Noor said she has obtained a waiver to wear her hijab in future events without being barred, she doesn’t think a waiver is “respectful” to her.

“I feel happy that I’m racing on Saturday and my time is going to count, I’m happy to follow the rules,” she said. “But I don’t think that the whole letter thing and having to inform people that I’m coming is proper or respectful to myself.”

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