Wilmington mayor apologizes after Muslim swimmers asked to leave public pool

A city swimming pool in Wilmington is under scrutiny after Muslim children were asked to stay out of the water because of their clothing.

“It’s just sad that they’re being discriminated against, that’s what it is,” said Mia Miller.

A group of children and their parents say they feel discriminated against by a manager and staff at the City of Wilmington’s Foster Brown Pool because of their clothing and their religion.

“She’s been really rude to us and telling us to get out of the pool,” Wala Brown said.

Facebook video shared by camp director Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel shows some of the campers splashing around in bathing suits, while others wore leggings or t-shirt in displays of modesty, which is important in the Muslim faith.

“Both of my daughters are special needs and they are very emotional, so my daughters sat and cried when the lady reached around and tapped them on the shoulder and said ‘You get out of the pool. You get out of the pool,’” said Miller.

“You don’t have a sign up anywhere. Nothing states that this is an issue,” Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel said.

Ismaa’eel says the alleged harassment has occurred at the pool multiple times since June 25th. Since then, she says she has met with the Director of Parks and Recreation, but still she says the group feels targeted.

“To the point where one of the kids said they heard the term ‘Muslim’ used,” said Ismaa’eel.

“I swam in these pools all my life. I come in shorts and a t-shirt and it’s never been an issue,” said Tiana Russell.

Mayor Mike Purzycki released a public apology and said:

“It was wrong of the City to ask children of the Muslim faith to leave a city pool because of religious-related clothing.”

While many public pools have a no-cotton policy to help maintain the pool’s filtration system and uphold the safety of the children, the Mayor’s statement continues:

“…the city used poor judgement in assessing this entire matter and equally poor judgement in reacting to it.”

Mayor Purzycki says he wants to meet with the camp director and parents this week to personally apologize for this and discuss the situation moving forward. The camp says it gladly accepts the mayor’s invitation to talk.

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