16:09 GMT24 February 2020
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    In 2016, several French municipalities banned the wearing of burkinis, claiming it was a security threat, only to have the bans later overturned by a court.

    Authorities in the French city of Grenoble have shut down the city’s two municipal swimming pools amidst a blistering heatwave gripping western Europe after two Muslim women were seen swimming there wearing burkinis, reports AFP.

    The burkini-clad women went to the pools twice at the initiative of the Alliance Citoyenne, a civil rights NGO, to challenge a city ban on the full-body swimwear, which they claim is discriminatory.

    The women said they wanted the public pools, which currently require men to wear swim briefs and women to wear bikinis or one-piece swimsuits, to change their regulations to accommodate those who opt to wear a burkini.

    A Town Hall statement says lifeguards at the pools requested the shutdown because “they are there to maintain safety and they can’t do that when they have to worry about the crowds”.

    It added: “We are working towards a positive solution.”

    Right-wing politicians expressed their opposition to the burkini on Monday, the day after the event in Grenoble, as a local MP, Eric Ciotti, said on Twitter the burkini “has no place in France where women are equal to men”.

    ​Twitterati also expressed divided sentiment regarding the ban.


    A burkini full-body swimsuit. (File)
    © AFP 2019 / MOHD RASFAN
    A "burkini" full-body swimsuit. (File)

    In 2016, a number of French municipalities banned the wearing of burkinis, which sparked international controversy, with some towns banning the garment, claiming it was a security threat, only to have the bans later overturned by a court.

    A country with western Europe’s largest Muslim population, France was the first European country to ban wearing the full veil – niqab - in public spaces in 2011.
    The European court of human rights upheld the ban on wearing the full-face veil in 2014, rejecting arguments that the ban breached religious freedom.

    A burkini is a type of modesty swimsuit for women that covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet, while being light enough for swimming.
    The design is intended to respect Islamic traditions of modest dress, but its acceptability is debated.


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