A Muslim school filed a lawsuit against the city of Wilmington, Delaware, after several students were kicked out of a public pool for wearing Islamic clothing.
Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel, principal of the Darul Amaanah Academy, claimed that staff at Foster Brown pool forced seven students, aged 5 to 12, to leave the pool for wearing hijabs, T-shirts, and leggings in the water. The lawsuit alleges that pool staff forced the children to leave early on four subsequent occasions, with recreation staff citing an unofficial rule against cotton clothing in the pool. (RELATED: Mosque Of Imam Who Claims His Grandson Died At Jihadi Compound Claims News Coverage Is Anti-Muslim Propaganda)
“As a result of their treatment at Foster Brown (pool), many of the children have come home in tears, shattered by their treatment by city employees and questioning whether their Islamic faith makes them unwelcomed and unwanted,” the Wednesday lawsuit states, according to the Delaware News Journal.
The lawsuit asks that the court order a declaration that city officials violated the rights of the school’s children, an extension of the 2019 pool season to compensate the children, a ban on officially adopting a rule against cotton clothing in pools, and “conspicuous signs” saying that pool employees are prohibited from engaging in discriminatory behavior, among other things.
The city initially supported pool management’s decision to ask the children to leave on the grounds that they were wearing improper swimwear that, according to pool staff, could clog the filtration system and could also inhibit the children’s ability to swim.
“There are city rules and regulations designed to ensure the safety of those who use the pools,” John Rago, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for policy and communication, said on July 14. “One of the rules requires that all swimmers wear proper swimming attire.”
City officials swiftly changed their tune once the story spread nationally. Mayor Mike Purzycki, a Democrat, issued an apology to the children just hours after Rago’s statement.
“I apologize to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing,” Purzycki said, according to Delaware Online. “We also referred to vaguely-worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgment, and that was also wrong.”
The city has reassigned the pool staff member who repeatedly asked the children to leave and has also promised to create clearer policies regarding swimwear, according to The Associated Press.
Muslim Advocates, the group representing the school, said it was too little too late, and demanded sensitivity training for pool staff and an investigation into the pool’s treatment of the children.
“None of that has materialized in any meaningful way,” said Juvaria Khan, a Muslim Advocates attorney.
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