Archive for Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pool bars Muslim woman for ‘burquini’

August 13, 2009

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Sama Wareh walks along the sand dressed in swimwear designed for Muslim women Newport Beach, Calif., in this Feb.15, 2007, file photo. A French Muslim was denied entry to a swimming pool for wearing an Islamic-style full-body swimsuit.

Sama Wareh walks along the sand dressed in swimwear designed for Muslim women Newport Beach, Calif., in this Feb.15, 2007, file photo. A French Muslim was denied entry to a swimming pool for wearing an Islamic-style full-body swimsuit.

— A Muslim woman garbed in a head-to-toe swimsuit — dubbed a “burquini” — may have opened a new chapter in France’s tussle between religious practices and its stern secular code.

Officials insisted Wednesday they banned the woman’s use of the Islam-friendly suit at a local pool because of France’s pool hygiene standards — not out of hostility to overtly Muslim garb.

Under the policy, swimmers are not allowed in pools with baggy clothing, including surfer-style shorts. Only figure-hugging suits are permitted.

Nonetheless the woman, a 35-year-old convert to Islam identified only as Carole, complained of religious discrimination after trying to go swimming in a “burquini,” a full-body swimsuit, in the town of Emerainville, southeast of Paris.

She was quoted as telling the daily Le Parisien newspaper that she had bought the burquini after deciding “it would allow me the pleasure of bathing without showing too much of myself, as Islam recommends.”

“For me this is nothing but segregation,” she said.

The issue of religious attire is a hot topic in France, where head-to-toe burqas or other full-body coverings worn by some Muslim fundamentalists are in official disfavor.

France is home to western Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at 5 million, and Islam is the nation’s second religion after Roman Catholicism.

A 2004 law banning the wearing of Muslim head scarves at public schools sparked fierce debate. That legislation also banned Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses in public classrooms.

French lawmakers recently revived the issue of Muslim dress with a proposal that the burqa and other voluminous Muslim attire be banned.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative, backs the move, saying such garb makes women prisoners.

The “burquini” covers the arms to the wrists and the legs to the ankle and has a hood to cover neck and hair.

An official in charge of swimming pools for the Emerainville region, Daniel Guillaume, said the refusal to allow the local woman to swim in her “burquini” had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with public health standards.

“These clothes are used in public, so they can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers,” Guillaume said in a telephone interview.

“We reminded this woman that one should not bathe all dressed, just as we would tell someone who is a nudist not to bathe all naked,” he said.

Guillaume said France’s public health standards require all pool-goers to don swimsuits for women and tight, swimming briefs for men — and caps to cover their hair. Bathers also must shower before entering the water.

Carole told the daily Le Parisien she would protest with the help of anti-discrimination groups.

The suits have a clear market. Women “jump on the occasion so they can swim with their families. Otherwise, they end up staying on the beach and watching,” said Leila Mouhoubia, who runs an online site from France that specializes in the sale of Islamic swimsuits. Sales, she said, are strong.

“I think it’s forbidden (in France) because it presents an image of the Muslim woman (and) they have prejudices against Muslims,” she said by telephone. “They want women to be undressed.”

Mouloud Aounit, head of the anti-racism group known as MRAP, said the decision to ban Carole from the pool appeared fair, since pool authorities were observing regulations. But Aounit lamented that the incident was likely to fuel religious tensions.

“The rules must be the same for everybody, regardless of the color of their skin or their religion,” Aounit said. “The concern I have is that this case will again lead to stigmatization of the Muslim population in France.”

Comments

number3of5 6 years ago

Hey, Do any of you out there go to the pool to bathe? I would bathe in my tub or shower in my shower, not in a public pool. A public pool would be for swimming or relaxing in the water with family on a hot day. The amount of clothes on has on has nothing to do with this if it is used only for the purpose of swimming, and not daily wear. I agree that this is discrimination and should not have been allowed to happen. Kudos to Carole for her attempt, perhaps she will find more women like herself to push this issue until the French learn that in order to enjoy swimming, one need not be bare.

boltzmann 6 years ago

number3of5 (Anonymous) says…

"Hey, Do any of you out there go to the pool to bathe? I would bathe in my tub or shower in my shower, not in a public pool. A public pool would be for swimming or relaxing in the water with family on a hot day. The amount of clothes on has on has nothing to do with this if it is used only for the purpose of swimming, and not daily wear."

Actually, "bathing" is a generic term for the emersion of one's body in a fluid, so swimming at a public pools is an act of "bathing". Why do you think they call them "bathing suits"? In a public pool, for hygiene purposes it does matter how much one has on, for the reasons stated in the article.

Katara 6 years ago

"An official in charge of swimming pools for the Emerainville region, Daniel Guillaume, said the refusal to allow the local woman to swim in her “burquini” had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with public health standards.

“These clothes are used in public, so they can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers,” Guillaume said in a telephone interview."

and then

" Bathers also must shower before entering the water."

So it sounds like they already had a solution to the hygiene issue. Did she not comply and do a shower before entering the pool?

Because if she did comply with the shower requirement, it does not sound like they have much of argument against her burquini.

Further, if this "outfit" is used strictly for the pool, how can they argue that it is the same as everyday wear?

BigPrune 6 years ago

Because of the widespread use of birth control by its citizens and the birth rates of Islamic immigrants, France will become an Islamic Republic by the year 2025.

These rules are just last ditch efforts to try to hold onto their culture.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years ago

I totally side with the Islamic woman. What if Muslims had a Muslim only pool? I've heard the same argument about nuns who wear the traditional nun clothes, that they must be very uncomfortable and miserable. No.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

For years, we've been told by the tragically hip that America should be more like France. What happened?

Danielle Brunin 6 years ago

In the Middle East, they have indoor pools where there are separate times for men and women, so the women who wear hijab don't have to worry about being dressed immodestly in front of men and vice versa. I wonder if Sikh men wearing turbans are also banned from the pool? I would assume so. The funny thing is that they consider a banana hammock to be more hygienic than this swimsuit. shudders I've seen a lot of French tourists while traveling abroad and they would do well to wear one of these swimsuits.

Fatty_McButterpants 6 years ago

I'm more appalled by the fact that they REQUIRE men to wear a "banana sling" instead of allowing surfer-style shorts...

jaywalker 6 years ago

Logicsound nailed it. France, Germany, other European nations all have strict public pool rules. You must shower thoroughly before entering the pool, specific attire is mandatory, and swim caps are usually required as well. The suit is against their policy. Coulda been a 300 lb. behemoth with a t-shirt on 'cuz he's embarassed about his big, white flab.....the rule is the same. The only thing this has to do with religion is what the woman is making of it.

imastinker 6 years ago

I agree - this is discrimination.

Has anyone read about the muslim problem they have in France? Riots, bombings, etc....

It's very easy to sit safely at your computer half a world away and pass judgement. They have to do something. Read up:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/14/opinion/14iht-edfield.html

http://moderntribalist.blogspot.com/2006/01/frances-muslim-problem-will-only-get.html

http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/70050

BigPrune 6 years ago

What exactly is a "banana sling" and how did it get its name?

mr_economy 6 years ago

Anyone who cries racism here doesn't understand French pool rules.

I lived in France for 7 months and the first time I naively put on my board shorts and tried to go swimming in a public pool, I was not allowed to enter the water because "shorts are clothing, not swimwear." Men are required to wear Speedo-type swimwear and women must wear similar one- or two-piece garments. Also, everyone is required to wear swim caps.

The French are very serious about their pools - people use them almost exclusively for lane swimming and not lounging - and their rules reflect this.

Danielle Brunin 6 years ago

A banana hammock or banana sling is a speedo shudders again Draw your own conclusions...

jonas_opines 6 years ago

"For years, we've been told by the tragically hip that America should be more like France."

What? When were we told this? I seem to remember pretty unanimous ridicule of France for as long as I've followed international affairs, by a wide and diverse population.

You flying on your intuition again, snap? You should try not to do that.

puddleglum 6 years ago

I agree with jaywalker & logicsound:

a pre-swimming shower rinses sweat and lotions and other crud off of your body before you enter the pool...however, there could be all kinds of 'stuff' in the fabric of a burqakini. not to mention the confusion of trying to figure out if the woman is drowning, or if a potato sack has come to life and eaten someone.

Practicality 6 years ago

All this woman has to do is push through the Ardennes forrest, surround and cut-off the French Military, the French will then surrender to her, then she can swim in whatever pool she wants to while wearing whatever she wants.

This plan only takes about 5 to 6 weeks, whereas, we all know how long court cases take.

puddleglum 6 years ago

wow, a maginot line reference!

cool!

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