Erin Woo / Mercury News / August 25, 2019
SANTA CLARA — As the first player on the U.S. Squash national team to compete in a hijab, 12-year-old Fatima Abdelrahman is aware that her presence is a statement of sorts. Currently ranked fifth in the country for her age group, she’s been competing since she was five and wearing the hijab in competitions since she was 11.
“To be able to wear the hijab and still play squash and still make it to the national team with everyone else, it felt good,” she said. “Not that it holds me back, of course, but I’ve never seen anyone do it, and to be the first one doing it just feels good.”
But as the Santa Clara native traveled to Toronto for her first tournament with the national team, she did not expect that her decision to wear the hijab would thrust her into the center of a controversy, after an Air Canada agent forced her to remove the scarf while she waited to board a plane at San Francisco International Airport with her teammates.
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