French court scraps rule allowing burkinis in Grenoble swimming pools

·1 min read
The weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - A French administrative court has suspended the city of Grenoble's decision to allow body-covering "burkini" bathing suits for women in municipal pools, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on his Twitter feed.

Darmanin said his ministry had filed an objection against the burkini permit in Grenoble, an ecologist-run city in the French Alps, close to Italy.

"The administrative court considers that the mayor of Grenoble, with his decision allowing burkinis in municipal pools, is seriously undermining secularism," Darmanin said.

The municipal council of Grenoble, following a proposal by its ecologist mayor Eric Piolle, had voted in favour of allowing the use of burkinis on May 16, sparking howls of protest from conservative and far-right politicians.

Darmanin said the court ruling was based on the 2021 "separatism" law voted during President Emmanuel Macron's first term, which allows the suspension of measures that would "undermine secularism and the neutrality of public services."

Far-right party leader Marine Le Pen - who came second after Macron in presidential elections in April and hopes to defeat Macron's centrist party at parliament elections in June - has said she wants to introduce a law banning burkinis in municipal pools.

Muslim rights organisations in France have said that bans on burkinis - which leave only the face, hands and feet exposed - restrict fundamental liberties and discriminate against Muslim women.

France, which has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million, in 2010 introduced a ban on full-face niqab and burqa veils in public.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Alistair Bell)