Top French court blocks city’s bid to allow ‘burkini’ in pools

A top French court on Tuesday blocked a bid to allow the “burkini” at municipal pools in the city of Grenoble, upholding a government challenge against a move that revived France’s intense debate on Islam.

The all-in-one swimsuit, which is used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while swimming, is seen as a controversial issue in France where critics see it as a symbol of “creeping Islamisation.”

The “very selective exception to the rules to satisfy religious demands… risks affecting the proper functioning of public services and equal treatment of their users” the Council of State ruled Tuesday.

Its judgment backed a lower court ruling in May that was prompted by a challenge by the national government to the council’s decision. Led by Green party mayor Eric Piolle, Grenoble had in May changed its swimming pool rules to allow all types of bathing suits and for women to bathe topless.

“All we want is for women and men to be able to dress how they want,” Piolle said at the time.

The judges disagreed, finding that “contrary to the objective declared by the city of Grenoble, the change to the pool rules aimed only to authorise wearing of the ‘burkini.'” Previously, only traditional swimming costumes for women and trunks for men were authorized.




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