Delaware city reverses policy on rule used to exclude Muslim swimmers

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.

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