Chicago Tribune: Suits – Woman denied swim access due to Muslim dress

A Brookfield man filed two lawsuits today against the Forest Preserve District of Cook County alleging that his wife was denied access to the Cermak Family Aquatic Center in 2009 because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress.

Mahmoud Yaqub went to the aquatic center, which has a wading area, fountains and sprinklers, with his wife and two children on Aug. 16, 2009, according to the lawsuits filed against the Forest Preserve District of Cook County in Cook County Circuit Court.

In the lawsuit, Yaqub alleges that his wife was dressed in a hijab, which is a traditional Muslim headscarf, and a jibab, which is a loose-fitting garment. The family had arrived at the ticket booth to buy their entrance tickets when the cashier told them they couldn’t go inside “because of your wife’s outfit,” the lawsuit states.

Yaqub, who is represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that he tried to explain that neither he nor his wife would be swimming, but the cashier continued to insist that swimwear must be worn into the center.

Yaqub then tried to enter the center with just his children, but was told by another employee that there might be a problem with his children’s T-shirts and his basketball shorts, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that the facility’s employees violated the Illinois Human Rights Act when they allegedly discriminated against the Yaqub family because they are Muslim.

A Cook County Forest Preserve District spokesman declined to comment on the case Thursday evening and said that the organization does not comment on pending litigation.

Yaqub has requested an unspecified amount of money for his family’s subsequent “emotional distress, based on the significant and public assault on their dignity.”

In a separate lawsuit he has also requested that a judge require allow his family to be admitted to all Forest Preserve District of Cook County facilities if they are wearing garments mandated by their religious practices