A Muslim woman from Colorado was denied the right to swim in a pool at a recreation center because she wanted to do so while wearing a long Islamic dress over a shirt and pants.
Sabah Ali says she asked workers if she could instead wear just her shirt and pants and remove the dress, but that her request was also denied, reports Daily Mail. Although Ali says she views this as an issue of religious discrimination, a Commerce City spokesperson told ABC 7 the rules are in place to protect the public.
“The city routinely turns away people who don’t have appropriate swimwear – jean shorts, sport shorts, not wearing swim diapers,” said Commerce City spokesperson Michelle Halsted. “We turn all those individuals away because the No. 1 focus for us is safety.”
Halsted argues that outside clothing can increase the chances of contaminating the water and spreading waterborne illnesses. She also said full-body swimsuits and the rash guards worn by surfers are allowed in the pool.
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But Ali argues that she was discriminated against because of her Islamic dress.
“Why do I have to be half naked to swim?” Ali said. “To enjoy time with my kids? I want to have the same rights as every citizen.”
Civil rights attorney Quasair Mohamedbhai said the policies of public places should be modified to ensure that Muslims feel included. As a result of Ali coming forward, the city has reportedly decided to update its swimwear brochure so that burkinis are included in its list of acceptable swimming attire.
Photo Credit: ABC 7