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The wearing of the burkini now authorized in public swimming pools in Grenoble in France, raises reactions 

Photo: Le Monde newspaper

Grenoble authorizes from May 16, the wearing of the burkini in public swimming pools for women of Muslim faith. The burkini is a lycra suit covering the body from head to toe, informally called burkini, a contraction of burqa and bikini. 

A week of controversy, a heated debate of 2.5 hours, 29 votes for, 27 against and two abstentions, that's what it took for the rules of procedure of the municipal swimming pools of Grenoble to be modified and authorize the wearing of the burkini, in accordance with the wishes of Mayor Eric Piolle. 

If the modification of the regulations of the municipal swimming pools of Grenoble is the joy of Muslim women and the association Citizen Alliance which has been campaigning since 2019 for this change, other personalities are categorically opposed to it.   

The president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region Laurent Wauquiez, reacting to the vote of the municipal council, accuses Mayor Piolle of breaking with secularism and the values of the French Republic. The prefect of Isère meanwhile, had made it known since Sunday that he was going to seize the administrative court of Grenoble, on the instructions of the Minister of the Interior, in order to block the measure if it were adopted. 

To do this, he will have to appeal to a provision introduced by the law on separatism voted in August 2021, which concerns acts seriously undermining the principle of secularism and neutrality of the public service. 

The elected representatives of the opposition accuse the mayor of wanting to exist in the national media whatever the cost. After the vote, they expressed their deep disappointment and announced at the same time, appeals the next day to obtain its cancellation. 

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Deputy Eric Ciotti tabled Monday in the National Assembly, a bill to ban the burkini in public swimming pools. 

Sweeping away the objections of the opposition, the mayor of Grenoble invokes a feminist fight for health and secularism because, he maintains, nothing prohibits the wearing of religious clothing in public space, including at the swimming pool.  

He also maintains that the modification of the internal rules of the municipal swimming pools only aims to lift the aberrant clothing prohibitions, and to go against the injunctions on the body of women.  

“This fight for the freedom of their bodies for women is a fight that is close to our hearts and we want to end the clothing bans” he continued. 

This change in regulations also authorizes topless bathing for women, makes it compulsory to accompany minors from the age of 12, requires bathing caps, and the expulsion period is extended to one month in the event of bad behavior. It also requires fabric swimsuits specifically designed for swimming, with fitted shapes close to the body and for pool use only. Swimwear-shorts and unfitted outfits that are longer than mid-thigh will be prohibited. 

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Sam Sarah Devilus
Journalist / Communicator / Bookstagramer.