GRENOBLE, France: A French court stepped into a row over the wearing of burkinis in municipal swimming pools, suspending a council’s decision to allow Muslim women to wear them.
The administrative court in the Alpine city of Grenoble blocked the rule change by the council there, arguing that it “seriously violated the principle of neutrality in public service”. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin welcomed the court ruling as “excellent news” in a post on Twitter on Wednesday evening.
The ruling was the latest development in a long-running dispute that has set defenders of France’s secular values against those arguing that a burkini ban constitutes discrimination.
The all-in-one swimsuit, used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while bathing, is a controversial issue in France where critics see it as a symbol of creeping Islamisation.
The governor of the Isere region in southeast France had asked the court to intervene to stop the rule change from coming into effect in June. The new rule had been championed by Grenoble’s mayor Eric Piolle, one of the country’s highest profile Green politicians who leads a broad left-wing coalition locally.
The rule changes the council had approved would have allowed all types of bathing suits, not just traditional swimming costumes for women and trunks for men. Women would also have been free to bathe topless if they chose to.
Source: The News