Earlier this month, Ibtihaj Muhammad, the U.S. Olympian that became the first Muslim-American woman to win an Olympic medal for the United States, claimed she had been detained and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents for two hours with no answer as to why. While being interviewed, Muhammad was asked if she knew anyone who was affected by “Trump’s travel ban” and mentioned that she herself had been detained a “few weeks ago,” but didn’t mention that it happened in December while President Obama was in office. Many popular media outlets failed to disclose that detail when they reported on her story and alluded to the fact she was held because of actions taken by President Trump.
On February 7th, Muhammad was asked by a reporter with Popsugar if Muhammad knew anyone who was impacted by Trump’s travel ban. Muhammad said that she was personally held “just a few weeks ago” and she “didn’t know why.”
“Well, I personally was held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago,” Muhammad said. “I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you.”
“Unfortunately, I know that people talk about this having a lot to do with these seven countries in particular, but I think the net is cast a little bit wider than we know. And I’m included in that as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab,” she continued.
During the interview, Muhammad didn’t say the exact date she was detained. Major news sources such as Time magazine’s “motto,” The Daily Mail, the NY Daily News, and others; failed to ask exactly when the incident with Muhammad occurred and alluded to, or straight reported, that she was detained because of Trump’s travel ban.
Four days after the interview, Ibtihaj Muhammad tweeted that the incident happened in December.
A U.S. Customs official spoke on anonymity to the Washington Examiner and disputed Muhammad’s claims, saying that she was not targeted and the whole event was not two hours long.
“She comes and goes many times. She travels quite extensively. She has never been stopped before. She wasn’t targeted. The checks are totally random; random checks that we all might be subject to,” the official told the Washington Examiner.
“This all happened in December, which was well before any executive order. Which is a totally separate incident,” the official continued.
“We were surprised and disturbed when we saw the story,” they said. “We didn’t mistreat her. We’re very proud of what she has done.”