YMCA employee calls police on Muslim woman over swimwear

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A Charlotte area YMCA has issued an apology after a misunderstanding about swim wear led to an early end at the pool for a Muslim mother and her two daughters.

In a video recorded by the mother on Sunday, she is approached at the Harris YMCA pool by a CMPD officer and a YMCA staff member.

“What am I doing that is wrong? Watching my daughters? At my age I am not going to strip naked,” she says in the video.

“Under the YMCA policy you do not have proper swim attire,” says the CMPD officer in the video.

The woman says she left the pool following the incident.

“I could have been given a warning or something, but not to the point of calling the police and having them waiting for me right there,” said Fatima Najjati. 

Najjati took her 8-year-old and 2-year-old daughter to swim on Sunday. That seems to be where the problem started. Charlotte YMCA pool rules say a child under the age of 9 must be in the pool with an adult, unless they have passed a certified swim class.

The video shows management and the lifeguard wouldn’t let Fatima get in the pool because they thought she was fully clothed.

Fatima is Muslim and says was wearing a long sleeve athletic shirt and pants. It’s as close she will get to wearing a standard swimsuit. She has worn the same outfit to the YMCA pool in the past.

“Of course I make sure to take swimwear material type clothing. Nobody has ever bothered me except for that day,” said Najjati.

YMCA management called Fatima Monday to apologize, saying the confrontation was a misunderstanding. 

They also sent FOX 46 Charlotte a statement which reads:

"The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is committed to providing a welcoming environment for all people. We deeply regret our error, and we are grateful for Ms. Ajdir’s acceptance of our apology and her willingness to work with us to help our staff fully understand, respect and appreciate the many cultures, religions and experiences of our members." 

YMCA management tells FOX 46 Charlotte that lifeguards normally don’t let people enter the pool fully clothed for safety reasons. There is concern that certain materials can add extra weight making it hard for people swim.

Management says in the organization guidelines there are specific rules about swim wear for different religions.