Muslim children return to swimming pool one year after being forced to leave because of their clothing

Wilmington agrees to pay $50,000 (£39,000) to students after discrimination lawsuit

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 30 June 2019 16:30 BST
The city of Wilmington has agreed to pay $50,000 following lawsuit
The city of Wilmington has agreed to pay $50,000 following lawsuit (Google)

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A group of Muslim schoolchildren have returned to a public swimming pool, a year after officials forced them to leave it because of their clothing.

Primary school students from the Darul-Amaanah Academy were asked to leave the Foster Brown pool in Delaware in June 2018.

The children, who were participating in a summer Arabic enrichment camp, were dressed in cotton shirts and shorts along with hijabs or headscarves.

The manager who asked them to leave claimed that it was against city policy to wear cotton in public pools.

Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel, the academy’s principal, said she had been taking students to the pool for three years before the incident.

“There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton,” she said in 2018, according to The News Journal.

“At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on … I asked, ‘Why are my kids being treated differently?’”

The manager later “had a police officer come over and ask what time [the group] were leaving,” Ms Ismaa’eel said.

The incident made national and international headlines and led to a discrimination lawsuit filed by the group against the city of Wilmington.

Mike Purzycki, the city’s mayor, initially defended the pool manager and said the policy was due to cotton posing a safety risk.

Mr Purzycki later apologised, following the media attention.

“I apologise to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing,” he said.

“We also referred to vaguely worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgment, and that was also wrong.”

Wilmington has since agreed to pay $50,000 (£39,000), to the group. The amount includes $4,285 (£3,375) payments to each of the seven affected children.

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The city has also agreed to revise its policies and train employees to be more sensitive.

Ms Ismaa’eel returned with her students to the pool a year after the incident, as it re-opened for the season, and said “it felt like home again.”

“We had a wonderful time,” she said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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