07.15.2018

Muslim swimmers asked to leave public pool in Delaware

Muslim swimmers asked to leave public pool in Delaware (Photo: Jerry Habraken, The News Journal)

It's the fourth year Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel has taken children, participants in her summer Arabic enrichment program, to Wilmington's Foster Brown public pool. But this year marked the first time some of her elementary schoolers were asked to leave the pool, Ismaa’eel said — supposedly because they were wearing cotton shirts; shorts; and hijabs, or headscarves. 

The pool manager said it's against city policy to wear cotton in public pools, according to Ismaa’eel. If it's a rule, Ismaa’eel said, "it's never been enforced." To pick on her group is discrimination, she said. 

"There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton," said Ismaa’eel, owner and principal of the Darul-Amaanah Academy and director of its summer program. "At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on. … I asked, 'Why are my kids being treated differently?'"

Ismaa’eel, who wears a hijab with a niqab covering her face, said she told the manager she would relay the message to the program parents. But that didn't resolve the issue.

"She (later) had a police officer come over and ask what time we were leaving," Ismaa’eel said.

For the full story, visit USAToday.com/News/NationNow.