French Court Upholds Burkini Swimsuit Ban In Public Pools, Details Explored

Public swimming pools around the globe establish some rules and regulations to be followed while using the facilities. The laws or rules can be on anything, and lately, one such issue in France has gone viral. 

France’s Top Administrative Court Banned Full-Body Burkinis

Grenoble is a city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France. The city, situated at the foot of mountains between the Drac and Isère rivers, is known for winter sports, museums, etc. One of the major attractions within the city provided by the Grenoble government is several public swimming pools(indoor and outdoor pools) with world-class facilities.

France's top administrative court banned full-body burkinis

On Tuesday, France’s highest administrative court upheld a ban on ‘burkinis’ in Grenoble’s public swimming pools. Dress codes are quite common in swimming pools, and due to the outbreak of protests by the local Muslim women, the city passed a rule last month allowing women to wear burkinis in Grenoble’s public pools. ‘Burkini’ is a kind of swimsuit worn by Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while swimming.

The south eastern city’s council conducted voting in mid-May permitting new ordinances that enable different bathing dress codes including burkini. But after the local administrative court suspended the policy, Grenoble petitioned the judgment and this led to the French court verdict that was held on Tuesday.  

The court on Tuesday thwarted the request to allow burkini in Grenoble municipal pools, supporting the government’s challenge against the move that restored the country’s extreme debate on Islam. This controversial issue happening in France is seen as a symbol of ‘creeping Islamisation by the critics. 

On Tuesday, the Council of the State declared that particular exceptions to the laws to satisfy religious demands would affect the proper functioning of public services. They even said that permitting ‘burkini’ would undermine the equal treatment of users thus the neutrality of the public services has been settled. The court even regarded Grenoble’s decision to support burkini as allowing some bathers to violate the “hygiene and security rules.”

The burkini swimsuits covering whole body parts except the hands, face, and feet have always led to arguments for years. The opposing group claimed that this dress code disregards the French state’s secularism and thus suggests that all religious practices must be kept out of public places and gatherings. Yet a few Islam women criticized the rule expressing it as unfairly targeting their faith and their bodies based on the ancient misinterpretations of Islam. 

Islam women in France have always faced hardships while accessing public services due to strict limits on showing religious beliefs. This has been one of the reasons why the rights advocates including the United Nations Human Rights Committee criticize such bans.       

The French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted that the ruling was “a victory for the law of separatism, for secularism and beyond, for the whole Republic.” As per the authorities, the French swimwear policies in public pools are very strict for following a secular and hygienic experience for the swimmers. In most cities, Baggy swim trunks, loose clothing, and swimming without caps were banned in public pools.  

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