French court upholds burqini ban in public pools

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France’s highest administrative court is upholding a ban on burqini swimsuits in the southerneastern city of Grenoble’s public pools, the court announced Tuesday. Photo by Giorgio Montersino/Flickr

June 21 (UPI) — France’s highest administrative court is upholding a ban on burqini swimsuits in the southeastern city of Grenoble’s public pools, the court announced Tuesday.

The ruling reversed a decision initially made by Grenoble’s city council.

In mid-May, Grenoble municipal council voted 27-2 to allow the swimsuits at all but one of the city’s public pools. The policy was more in line with Grenoble Mayor Éric Piolle’s goal of adopting more permissive swimming regulations.

The policy was then suspended by a local administrative court. The high court’s ruling upholds that decision.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted the ruling was “a victory for the ‘separatism’ law, for secularism and beyond, for the whole Republic.”

“Our wish is to get rid of absurd restrictions,” Piolle said in May, ahead of the vote.

“This includes (allowing) bare breasts and swimming costumes that give extra coverage for sun protection or for beliefs; it is not about taking a position for or against the burqini specifically.”

Burqinis, invented by Australian Aheda Zanetti, are whole-body swimsuits mostly worn by Muslim women that combine the look of a burqa and bikini, only allowing for the wearer’s face, feet and hands to show.

French rules on swimwear can be strict. Men are required to wear tight-fitting swimsuits, another rule Grenoble city council unsuccessfully tried to overturn.

In 2016 several French mayors tried to ban burkinis on beaches, before the proposals were blocked as discriminatory.

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