A Muslim group was singled out at a Delaware public pool and asked to leave for wearing cotton shirts, shorts, and hijabs.
Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel, who runs Darul Amaanah Academy, an Arabic summer enrichment program, has been taking her elementary schoolers to Wilmington’s Foster Brown public pool for four years.
However, this is the first year that her group was asked to leave the pool due to their attire, according to WGRZ.
The pool manager apparently claimed to Ismaa’eel that “it’s against city policy to wear cotton in public pools.”
However, Ismaa’eel disputed that the rule was never enforced in the past. She also noted, “There are other kids with cotton on… Why are my kids being treated differently?”
After she was confronted about their clothing, a police officer was reportedly waiting for Ismaa’eel and her summer program children and asked her when they were going to leave the pool.
Instead of mentioning the cotton like the pool manager did, the officer said that there were “people waiting to get in and waiting for you to leave.”
“We were approached first about the cotton, and then it became, ‘Oh, the pool is over capacity so you need to leave.’ … I felt very unwanted,” the program director, who wears a hijab and niqab herself, said.
John Rago, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for policy and communication, said in an email statement that cotton is banned from public pools because “the fact that cotton becomes heavy when wet and weighs swimmers down. Cotton also strains the pool filtration system more than proper swimwear.”
However, Ismaa’eel, who has been going to the pool for quite some time, says that she sees swimmers in cotton T-shirts who have never been harassed like her group.
As a result of the incident, parents were informed of the apparent cotton ban but many of the families participating in the summer Arabic enrichment program are below the poverty line and cannot afford costly religious-friendly swimwear.
A GoFundMe page for Darul Amaanah Academy has since been launched.