Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad wants to use the international sporting event to positively change how the Muslim community is perceived, especially in light of GOP nominee Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration.
In an interview with CNN last week, the fencer — who will be the first Muslim athlete to compete with a hijab — said that Trump’s words are “very dangerous.”
“When these types of comments are made, no one thinks about how they really affect people,” she said. “I’m African American. I don’t have another home to go to. My family was born here, I was born here. I’ve grown up in Jersey. All my family’s from Jersey. It’s like, well, where do we go?”
“I’m hopeful that in my efforts to represent our country well as an athlete, that they change the rhetoric around how people think and perceive the Muslim community,” Muhammad added.
When Muhammad arrived in Rio, she was quick to diss the GOP nominee at a news conference last Thursday. When asked about her views on Trump’s Muslim immigration ban, she responded with, “Who?”
Though she didn’t answer the question, she did elaborate on how she hopes to make the biggest impact in Rio.
“It’s really simple: All I have to do is stand on the strip, wear my hijab and that’s a part of who I am,” Muhammad said, according to NJ.com. “But obviously, I hope a medal comes along with that.”
The saber fencer defeated Ukraine’s Olena Kravatska in the round of 32 on Monday. Though she lost against France’s Cecilia Berder in the round of 16, she will compete alongside U.S. teammates Mariel Zagunis and Dagmara Wozniak against Poland’s team on Saturday.