WILMINGTON, Del. — The mayor of Delaware’s biggest city is apologizing after Muslim children were asked to stay out of a municipal pool because of their clothing.
In a statement issued Saturday night, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said the city was wrong to use a vaguely-worded policy to bar Muslim kids wearing cotton shirts, shorts and headscarves from the city’s Foster Brown pool.
“We should be held accountable for what happened and how poorly we assessed this incident. I apologize to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing,” Purzycki said. “We also referred to vaguely-worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgement, and that was also wrong.”
City officials had justified the kids’ exclusion based on a rule against wearing cotton in the pools. City officials defended the rule by saying cotton poses a safety risk and strains the pool’s filtration system.
But Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel, who ran a summer Arabic program and brought Muslim campers to the pool, said the rule about cotton wasn’t posted and was being enforced in a discriminatory way against her kids.