Mayor apologizes after Muslim swimmers forced out of city pool over ‘cotton rule’
16 July 2018|03 Dhul Qa’dha 1439|RT News
The mayor of a US city has apologized after officials forced a group of Muslim children out of a community pool by falsely claiming that their hijabs and niqabs did not meet safety standards.
Mayor Mike Purzycki of Wilmington in Delaware said staff had exercised “poor judgement” at the Foster Brown public pool earlier this month. The situation arose when the director of a summer Arabic enrichment program was approached by the pool manager, who cited a policy that supposedly prohibited swimmers from wearing cotton in public pools.
The manager said that the elementary-school-aged swimmers had to leave the pool because they were wearing cotton shirts, shorts, hijabs and headscarves. However, no such specific rule exists.
“There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton,” Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel, owner and principal of the Darul-Amaanah Academy, told Delaware Online. “At the same time, there were other kids with cotton on. I asked, ‘Why are my kids being treated differently?’”
Ismaa’eel, who wears a hijab and niqab covering her face, was then approached by a police officer who told her the pool was over capacity. “I felt very unwanted,” she said.
Purzycki had initially refused to comment on the case but has now apologized, saying the city “should be held accountable” for what happened. “I apologize to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing,” he said in a statement.
The row follows a number of similar incidents across the US in recent times. Earlier this month, a black woman in North Carolina claimed she was racially profiled when a neighbor called the police after questioning the woman’s right to access a private leisure pool. Video of the incident quickly went viral, leading to the man stepping down as chairman of the homeowners’ association, and losing his job at a local packaging company.
In another row in South Carolina last June, a woman was arrested after telling a group of black teenagers they “did not belong” at a community pool and using racial slurs. When police attempted to serve her with an arrest warrant, she was accused of pushing a detective into a wall and biting another detective on the arm, breaking the skin.