SYLVANIA, Ohio — A local high school runner was able to compete on Saturday after she was disqualified last week for running in her hijab.
Noor Abukaram is a junior in high school and has always worn her Nike sport hijab when running for Sylvania Northview. It was never a problem until one particular meet last week.
Abukaram completed a uniform check and ran the race. However, after crossing the finish line, she noticed her name wasn't 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.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association requires coaches to have a waiver for athletes wearing anything that is not a part of league-approved uniforms. Abukaram's family and coach were unaware that she needed a waiver, mainly because she's been competing in multiple sports for three years, always wearing her hijab with no problem.
Abukaram obtained her waiver for Saturday's race, and thankfully, was able to compete, even running her personal best.
Abukaram's story quickly went viral, sparking a national conversation. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren voiced her support for Noor on Twitter, saying:
"I've got your back, Noor. Every kid should be able to feel safe and welcome at school — and Muslim students should never be denied participation in school activities."
The incident prompted action from OHSAA regarding their rules and athletes wearing religious articles. Leaders from OHSAA released this statement on Saturday:
"Rightfully so, there has been a lot of concern expressed the last few days over the disqualification of Noor Abukaram from last week's OHSAA district cross country meet. To Noor, her family, her teammates, the Northview community and those who were offended by this rule and her disqualification, we greatly apologize.
Having a rule in place for those who wear religious articles is wrong, and we are taking immediate steps to have our Board of Directors modify this outdated regulation so that this does not happen again.
We wish Noor, her teammates and all the runners participating in tomorrow's regional meet at Tiffin nothing but the best."