France’s Council of State on Tuesday opposed the bathing suit that covers the head and body of Muslim women in municipal swimming pools. The use of this outfit, called the “burkini” by the French, has been the subject of frequent controversy in the European country.
The issue that sparked controversy over Islam in France began in mid-May when Grenoble’s city council relaxed regulations on what dress is allowed in swimming pools, without directly referring to the burkini.
The Ministry of the Interior filed a complaint, claiming that the procedure was contrary to the principles of secularism.
When an administrative court in Grenoble found the state correct, the city decided to appeal and the Council of State was assigned to the case.
This Tuesday, the highest administrative authority confirmed the decision of the Grenoble court, realizing that the new swimming pool regulation constituted a “highly selective exception” to satisfy a “religious claim”.
A Muslim woman wearing a burkini surfs on a beach in California, USA – Photo: Chris Carlson/AP/Arquivo
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin hailed the decision on Twitter, calling it “a victory for the law against separatism and for secularism”.
In 2016, an attempt by some mayors in southern France to ban the burkini on Mediterranean beaches triggered the first political storm over clothing seen by some as a symbol of women’s oppression.
Islamic dress is a controversial topic in France, where full veiling is prohibited in public places and the veil (the veil that covers the hair and neck of women) is also not permitted in schools or for civil servants in their workplaces.
Despite this, there is no law that prevents a person from carrying symbols or objects denoting religious affiliation.
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