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Muslim women in France defy burkini ban to swim in public pool

Category: Gender in the world 

In the French city of Grenoble on Sunday, Muslim women went swimming in a public pool in burkinis — swimsuits covering most of their bodies — in protest of a ban of the suits, the BBC reports. Many cities in France ban the suits, viewing them as a symbol of political Islam.


To protest the bans, women from Alliance Citoyenne, a group in Grenoble that advocates for social issues, began going to pools in the suits last month, CNN reports. At the pool on Sunday, lifeguards said the suits weren’t allowed, but the women jumped in anyway and swam for around an hour, according to the BBC, with some community members applauding them.


The group also tweeted a video of the women in the pool, saying that the act of “civil disobedience” was an effort to fight for their freedoms. The women were later questioned by police and fined $40 each, according to the BBC.

A woman involved in the protest told the BBC, “We have a dream: to have fun in public swimming pools like all other citizens, to accompany our children whenever they want to have a swim while it is very hot in the summer here in Grenoble.”

France enforces secularism, and religious symbols aren’t allowed in publicly owned places, such as public schools, according to CNN. In 2011, France banned burqas and niqabs in public spaces, with legislators who supported the law saying the garments threatened French secularism.

In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the country’s burqa and niqab ban, CNN reports. Four years later, the United Nations Human Rights Committee said that the ban violates Muslim women’s rights.

In 2016, cities across the country banned burkinis, according to CNN. France’s highest administrative court later ruled that mayors couldn’t ban the suits, but many cities continue to do so.


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