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Runner disqualified from high school cross-country meet for wearing a hijab

An Ohio high school student was disqualified from her district cross-country meet for failing to file a waiver that would allow her to compete in a hijab

Noor Alexandria Abukaram, 16, was disqualified from her district cross-country meet last weekend for wearing a hijab without submitting a waiver ahead of the race. According to OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) rules, a form must be completed ahead of a competition if a runner is planning to compete in religious headwear. Abukaram finished her 5K race in 22:22, a season’s best that won’t count.

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Cross country student athlete disqualified because of her HIJAB. . . My 16 year old cousin Noor was disqualified last weekend during her district cross country meet in Findlay, Ohio because of her hijab. Noor is on the Sylvania Northview Cross Country Team. The officials did not give her the courtesy of informing her of their problem with the hijab. Instead, they let her run the race thinking she was fine and after the race, while she was searching for her time alongside her teammates, she discovered her time wasn’t there. When she asked why, her teammates responded, “because of your hijab.” Below, is Noor’s exact recall of the race day, leading up to her finding out she was disqualified. . . Full story on my Facebook status. Link in bio

A post shared by Zobaida Falah (@zobaidafalah) on

According to Runner’s World, Abukaram attends a private school (Bounty Collegium) but competes for her district school’s cross-country team, Sylvania Northview High School, in Sylvania, Ohio. The runner had raced 10 times earlier in the season while wearing her hjiab, without any issues.

The Toldeo Blade reports that Ohio high school runners are not allowed to wear any head coverings, including hats, unless they have received special permission via a waiver. Abukaram has already submitted a waiver for this weekend’s regional competition, which has reportedly been approved.

As a result of Abukaram’s case, the athletic association is looking at rewriting their rules. OHSAA Director of Communications Tim Stried told The Blade, “The OHSAA is also already looking at this specific uniform regulation to potentially modify it in the future, so that religious headwear does not require a waiver.”


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Abukaram’s story has gone viral. The runner’s cousin and Cure Your World founder Zobaida Falah first posted the story on Instagram (above) and Facebook on Wednesday, and it quickly caught media attention. Abukaram shared on Facebook Friday morning that she’s so thankful for everyone’s support. “I knew I had to do something so that no other student athlete competing in a hijab would ever endure the humiliation and anguish that I went through last weekend. I am so thankful to each and every person who has shown me love and support. You guys don’t realize what that did for me, so thank you!”