For years Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel enjoyed taking groups of children to the Foster Brown pool as part of a program she heads for Muslim youth.
But last week several participants of her Arabic enrichment program were told to leave the premises because they were wearing cotton shirts, shorts and hijabs.
Ismaa’eel was taken aback at the instructions because in all her years of visiting the pool, she never saw the guidelines enforced.
“There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton,” she said in an interview with Delaware Online. “At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on. I asked, ‘Why are my kids being treated differently?'”
Ismaa’eel told the manager that she would relay the information to the children’s parents, but the incident didn’t stop there.
Moments later, a city officer approached the group to ask when they would be exiting the premises, citing that there were other groups waiting to swim.
“No one is bothering them,” said Ismaa’eel who wears a hijab with niqab to cover her face. “We were approached first about the cotton, and then it became, ‘Oh, the pool is overcapacity so you need to leave.’ … I felt very unwanted.”
According to the outlet, city officers usually patrol outside the grounds but it is unusual for them to enter the pool area.
Ishmaa’eel said she pointed out to the officer that there were several groups who had been at the pool longer than them.
The Delaware Online initially contacted Mayor Mike Purzycki‘s office, who told the outlet that the cotton rule is enforced for safety reasons and to avoid the filters clotting at the pool.
Purzycki later issued an apology saying the city used “poor judgement” in their initial response.
“I apologize to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing,” Purzycki said in his statement. “We also referred to vaguely worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgement, and that was also wrong.”
SOURCE: Delaware Online