(CHICAGO, 12/30/10) – The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) filed two complaints in circuit court today against the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The complaints were filed on behalf of a Muslim family that was barred from entering a children’s water park last year because of their clothing.
The water at the recreational pool, which is only 2 feet deep, has fountains and sprinklers and is made for wading.
A park manager first stopped the mother because of her long dress (jilbaab) and headscarf (hijab). When the mother agreed to leave and allow the rest of her family to enter the facility, the father and young children were then prevented from entering because park officials said their swimming trunks were not made with the right material. Despite Mr. Yaqub’s explanation that they were not going to swim but merely wade in the water, the family was still not allowed in.
Friends and family who did not wear the headscarf later entered the same water park in jeans and T-shirts without any problems.
In October, CAIR-Chicago filed a charge of discrimination and received a favorable ruling from the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) who conducted an investigation and found substantial evidence in favor of the Muslim family’s claims. The IDHR concluded that there is sufficient evidence the family was wrongly denied “full and equal enjoyment” of the facilities and that the reasons for their denial are “pretext for unlawful discrimination.”
“This incident is a blatant example of anti-Muslim discrimination, as the Illinois Department of Human Rights has affirmed,” said CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham. “Everyone is entitled to the equal enjoyment of public places. We will continue to challenge this sort of discrimination wherever it occurs.”
One complaint is being filed in the Chancery division for injunctive relief, requesting the court force the county to take action. The second complaint has been filed in the Municipal department, requesting other relief.
– END –CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.