Jumanah Saadeh is your typical American teen: She digs rock, loves the TV show “Lost” and shoots hoops with her friends.

But as an observant Muslim, the 14-year-old Ann Arbor girl believes Islam requires her to cover her hair and body while in public — even while swimming.

So when her seventh-grade class took a field trip last summer to a public pool in Ypsilanti, Jumanah changed into long nylon pants, a full-sleeve, collared shirt, and kept on her Islamic headscarf.

Moments after she entered the water in those clothes, a park supervisor admonished her for violating swimsuit policies that prohibit street clothes in pools.

“Hey you!” he barked at Jumanah. “Come here! You can’t swim in that.”

Jumanah left the pool. But later — urged on by her teacher, Muslim leaders and a civil rights attorney — Jumanah persuaded Washtenaw County to change its policy this year to accommodate Muslim women who want to cover themselves fully while swimming in public pools.

The new policy, which went into effect this summer, is the first of its kind in Michigan, and probably the country, according to national Muslim leaders.


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