Burkini Ban: France Upholds Ban on Burkini Swimsuits In Public Pools; Claims Costume Violates Principle of Neutrality in Public Services

An apex court in France has banned people from wearing burkini swimwear in public pools. The court argued that wearing burkini swimwear on religious reasons violates the principle of official government neutrality on matters of religion.

The city of Grenoble last month allowed women to wear burkinis in public pools, triggering a row with the government. The city's decision was termed as an unacceptable provocation by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who also called the announcement contrary to French values.

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Apart from Grenoble, the city of Rennes allowed burkini swimwear in public pools but the city's decision was not based on religious grounds.

Upholding the ban on burkini, the Council of State on Tuesday stated that Grenoble's decision to allow burkini on public pools was made to satisfy a religious demand, which undermines the neutrality of public services.

Grenoble Also Allowed People to Swim Topless

Grenoble had also allowed people to swim topless but the court has not ruled against it as it was not challenged in the court. Grenoble's decision about swimming topless has not been threatened in the courts.

Previously in 2016, the United Nations had also urged France to lift the ban on burkinis arguing that the decision is the stigmatization of Muslims.

Clothing of Islamist 'Propaganda'

Rupert Colville, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that the decision to ban burkinis fuels religious intolerance.

The decision to ban burkini in France started in 2016 when several municipalities and local government bodies started imposing a ban on the burkinis, which were termed as the clothing of Islamist propaganda by far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

France has strict laws on which swimming costumes can be worn and the issue of religious expression in public places is divisive. The ban on burkinis in state-run pools is also advocated for reasons of hygiene. Men are normally obliged to wear tight-fitting swimming trunks - another rule that Grenoble unsuccessfully attempted to overturn by permitting longer swimming shorts, according to BBC.