French court scraps rule allowing burqinis in city's swimming pools

A court agreed to allow women to wear the modest swimwear in its pools earlier in May

Women wear burqinis at a Red Sea resort in Hurghada, Egypt. Reuters
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A decision to allow body-covering "burqini" bathing suits for women in swimming pools in the city of Grenoble has been overturned by a French administrative court, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Mr Darmanin said on Twitter that his ministry had filed an objection against the burqini permit in Grenoble, an ecologist-run city in the French Alps, close to Italy.

"The administrative court considers that the mayor of Grenoble, with his decision allowing burqinis in municipal pools, is seriously undermining secularism," he said.

The municipal council of Grenoble, following a proposal by its ecologist Mayor Eric Piolle, on May 16 voted in favour of allowing burqinis, sparking howls of protest from conservative and far-right politicians.

Mr Darmanin said the court ruling was based on the 2021 "separatism" law voted in during President Emmanuel Macron's first term, which allows the suspension of measures that would "undermine secularism and the neutrality of public services".

Far-right party leader Marine Le Pen, who came second to Mr Macron in presidential elections in April and hopes to defeat Mr Macron's centrist party in parliamentary elections in June, has said she wants to introduce a law banning burqinis in municipal pools.

Muslim rights organisations in France have said that bans on burqinis, which leave only the face, hands and feet exposed, restrict fundamental liberties and discriminate against Muslim women.

France, which has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million, in 2010 introduced a ban on full-face niqab and burqa veils in public.

Updated: May 25, 2022, 9:59 PM