French court upholds ban on burkini in swimming pools

On Tuesday, the French Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, issued a decision banning the full-body swimwear—burkini that veiled Muslim women resort to in public swimming pools in the southeastern city of Grenoble.

In a statement, the State Council Court claimed that wearing these clothes “affects the proper conduct of the public service, and undermines the equal treatment of employees, thus endangering the impartiality of the public service.”

After this decision, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Tuesday took to Twitter and wrote, “The communitarianism of Éric Piolle, mayor of Grenoble, is definitively sanctioned by the Council of State which confirms the suspension of the burkini deliberation of the municipal council. A victory for the separatism law, for secularism and, beyond that, for the whole Republic.”

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The Grenoble municipality replied at the start of the evening “to take note” of this decision while regret[ting] that the Council of State attributes to it intentions that it does not have.

Eric Piolle, the mayor of Grenoble, allowed Muslim women to swim in a full-body burkini on May 11, sparking anger among conservatives who accused the mayor of the Green Party of giving in to Islamic ideas.

On May 16 the city council approved the resolution with 29 votes in favour, 27 against, with two abstentions, after two and a half hours of heated debate.

The burkini is one of the swimwear that does not reveal anything from the body except the face, hands and feet, and is worn by Muslim women who want to preserve the teachings of the religion.

The burkini is not completely prohibited by French law, but it is prohibited in many public pools.

Controversy has raged over the burkini in France since 2016, when a southern city tried to ban it on public beaches, claiming it violated basic freedoms.

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