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Top French court upholds ban on burkini swimsuits in Grenoble’s public pools

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A French supreme court on Tuesday blocked a bid to allow the “burkini” at municipal swimming pools in Grenoble, upholding a government challenge against a move that revived the intense debate about Islam in France.

The Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, said that “a highly selective exception to the rules to meet religious requirements… could jeopardize the proper functioning of public services and the equal treatment of their users”.

The all-in-one bathing suit, used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while bathing, is a controversial topic in France, where critics see it as a symbol of creeping Islamization.

Led by Green Party mayor Eric Piolle, the city of Grenoble changed its pool rules in May to allow all types of bathing suits, not just traditional women’s and men’s bathing trunks, which were previously mandatory.

“All we want is for women and men to be able to dress the way they want,” Piolle said at the time.

Tuesday’s court ruling was “a victory for the law against separatism, for secularism and beyond, for the entire republic,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote on Twitter, referring to a law introduced last year to curb Islamist radicalism. to counteract.

Attempts by several local mayors in the south of France to ban the burkini on Mediterranean beaches in the summer of 2016 sparked the first firestorm around the swimsuit.

The restrictions were eventually quashed for being discriminatory.

Burkinis are banned from French state baths for hygiene reasons – not religious reasons – while bathers are not required by law to hide their religion while bathing.

Grenoble is not the first French city to change its rules.

The northwestern city of Rennes quietly updated its pool code in 2019 to allow burkinis and other types of swimwear.

(AFP)

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