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”.
Le #Burkini n’a pas sa place en France où la femme est l’égale de l’homme.— Eric Ciotti (@ECiotti) June 24, 2019
Laisser faire ces activistes islamistes à #Grenoble comme partout en France c’est renoncer à la République.
Je ne l’accepterai jamais. pic.twitter.com/RodENVqcwO
Twitterati also expressed divided sentiment regarding the ban.
Correct decision,pools aren't places to carry out political agendas,it's not religious,just political in nature,it's political Islam,taking hold in France more and more— Mridul agrawal (@Mridul84850747) June 27, 2019
It’s always “Look at me- I’m a Muslim!” as they attempt to ram it down our throats, conveniently forgetting their OWN COUNTRIES do NOT have this level of freedom of speech and personal freedoms!— Sweetest Dreams Escape™️ (@ThisWayUpToo) June 27, 2019
But they want to exercise the right in the West!#ContinueTheBan
not allowing women to dress the way they want is oppression, NOT wearing a burkini.... https://t.co/oIX3tdGitQ— ✧･ﾟ: *nazire ✧*:･ﾟ✧ (@nazirewords) June 27, 2019
So they want to liberate women by telling them what to wear in the swimming pool... is this 2019?— MrArsenal (@MrArsenal87) June 27, 2019
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.