15:10 GMT +314 December 2018
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    A burkini full-body swimsuit. (File)

    Swedish Swimming Pool Stops Burkini Rental in 'Symbolic Gesture'

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    While Sweden's political establishment generally has a hard time coming to terms with the right-wing Sweden Democrats, parties from across the political spectrum joined forces to stop the rental of burkinis at a local swimming pool in a rare display of unity.

    The idea of stopping the rental of Muslim full-body bathing suits was first raised by the Sweden Democrats at the Municipality of Mjölby in Östergötland County last autumn and has now garnered sufficient support from Mjölby's Social Democrats, Conservatives and Centrists, the Dagens Nyheter daily reported.

    Nevertheless, the moratorium will only affect rented municipal swimming garments, as bathers are still free to bring along their own. Therefore, it is rather viewed as a symbolic gesture rather than a real crackdown.

    "We know that girls who live in a culture of honor are at risk of being limited, and our move to stop renting out burkinis at Lundby Bath is a small but symbolic stance against these limitations," Anneli Sjöström of the Center Party, deputy chair of the local culture and recreation board told Swedish Radio, stressing the municipality's responsibility to work for an equal society and people's equal value.

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    The decision to buy burkinis was taken by the swimming pool authorities.

    "Back then, when we bought the burkinis, it was difficult to get them, unlike now, and it still happens one a week that someone wants to rent them," Lundby Bath unit manager Marie Ljung told Dagens Nyheter, pledging to comply with the municipality's ruling.

    At present, several municipalities across Sweden provide burkinis for rent. One of the arguments in favor of the garment is that it makes it easier to offer inclusive swimming lessons to everyone, whereas another one is that swimmers may choose to appear in their own attire that doesn't necessarily meet the sanitary requirements of the facility.

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    According to the website Corren, Lundby Bath received many offensive comments on its Facebook page last autumn and had to delete them. Users were particularly triggered by a cartoon image featuring four young bathers with different skin tones and a girl wearing a burkini. According to Marie Ljung, the intention was merely to stress the importance of hygiene.

    The final decision on the matter will be taken by the Mjölby Culture and Recreation Board next week. By her own admission, Anneli Sjöstrand expects it to go through, as representatives of all the local parties have reached an agreement.

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    burkini, swimming pool, Islam, Scandinavia, Sweden
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