France’s highest administrative court upheld a previous ruling by a lower court which banned full-length swimsuits, known as ‘burkinis’, in public swimming pools in the eastern French city of Grenoble.
A woman wearing a full-body burkini swimsuit. (Photo: Reuters)
France’s highest administrative court on Tuesday upheld the ruling of a lower court which banned full-length swimsuits, known as ‘burkinis’, in public swimming pools in the eastern French city of Grenoble, as reported by CNN.
Following a series of protests by local Muslim women, the city had passed an edict last month allowing bathers at public pools in Grenoble to wear ‘burkinis’.
However, later that month, the city’s administrative tribunal overruled the decision a ruling which was upheld on Tuesday by the French Council of State.
In its ruling, the court invoked the principle of religious neutrality, concluding that permitting the “burkini” would undermine “the equal treatment of users, so that the neutrality of the public service is compromised,” the report by CNN stated.
“Contrary to the claimed objective of the city of Grenoble,” the city’s initial decision to authorize the “burkini” aimed “only to satisfy a demand of a religious nature,” the court said.
The court further observed that Grenoble’s decision to uphold the ‘burkini’ would have allowed some bathers to contravene “hygiene and security rules.”
Religious neutrality, enshrined in the modern French administrative principles, was given a boost last year by a “separatism law”, which was passed by the French President Emmanuel Macron-led government.
The legislation explicitly prohibits acts whose “manifest objective is to give in to sectarian demands with religious aims.” Right-leaning Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was the main face rallying behind this legislation.
Muslim women in France often face difficulties accessing public services due to strict limits on displays of religious conviction, making it one of the reasons why such bans have been criticised by rights advocates, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee.