She was the innocent center of a much publicized incident at the SXSW festival when a volunteer asked her to remove her hijab and the festival apologized.
Indeed, she’s big news everywhere in the world from Maplewood to Macau, spreading a message of diversity, acceptance and national pride.
She will be the first Muslim woman to represent the United States in international competition. And she will do it wearing her hijab at the Olympics in Rio.
On Wednesday, April 6, Ibtihaj Muhammad returns to her hometown of Maplewood, NJ (from 7 – 9 p.m. at The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road) for the final evening of the 2016 Maplewood Ideas Festival.
For those who don’t know, Muhammad is a member of the United States Olympic Fencing Team (sabre) and will be competing in Rio de Janiero this summer. Muhammad fenced as a student at Columbia High School, then won a scholarship to Duke University where she was a 3-time All American and Junior Olympic Champion.
After graduating from Duke with an International Relations and African Studies double major, Muhammad decided to pursue fencing full time. She is currently ranked 2nd in the U.S. and has ranked as high as number 11 in the world. Career highlights include World Champion (Team, 2014), 4-time Senior World Medalist and 3-time USA National Champion.
Muhammad’s celebrity has taken her beyond sports — and she has used it to make the world a better place.
In February 2012, Muhammad began working with U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports. As a sports ambassador, she ha met with audiences at home and abroad, inspiring youth and helping to increase the number of women and girls in sports. She represents the Peter Westbrook Foundation, an organization to mentor inner-city kids through the sport of fencing. Finally, she is an entrepreneur, founding a clothing company to provide affordable modest clothing.
Join the organizers of the Maplewood Ideas Festival in giving Muhammad a warm homecoming. She could use it: She must be feeling a lot of responsibility to deliver on high expectations.
“I told her to bring home the gold!” said President Obama in February, adding, “Not to put any pressure on you.”