The legal dispute over whether burkini or one-piece swimsuits should be allowed in French municipal swimming pools is to be brought before France’s highest administrative court as the city of Grenoble battles the state.
The city, at the foot of the French Alps, has been at the center of a painful political controversy since its Green mayor, Éric Piolle, who leads a broad left-wing coalition, proposed relaxing swimwear rules in outdoor public swimming pools.
The new rules, approved by the city council in May, do not name the burkini, but will allow people to wear any type of swimsuit, including letting men or women fully cover their bodies or allowing women to wear they go topless in the same way as men. can.
The state took legal action against Grenoble this week. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had opposed allowing burkinis in municipal swimming pools, calling it an “unacceptable challenge” and saying it was against French secular values. At Darmanin’s behest, the governor of the Isère region in southeastern France has asked a local court to intervene to suspend the new consortium rules on June 1.
The court ruled in favor of the government and suspended the new rules on Wednesday night, arguing that they “seriously violated the principle of neutrality in public service”. Darmanin wrote on Twitter that the decision was “extremely new.”
But the city of Grenoble has appealed the decision and the case will now go to France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat.
The case is important because the state challenge was presented under Emanuel Macron’s new law to address “Islamic autonomy”, which was passed by parliament last year. This law allows the government to challenge decisions that are suspected of undermining France’s secular traditions aimed at separating religion from the state.
The French Republic is built on a strict separation of church and state, with the aim of promoting equality for all private beliefs. This requires the state to be religion-neutral and allows everyone the freedom to practice their faith as long as there is no danger to public order.
The mayor of Grenoble argued that wearing a burqini in swimming pools had nothing to do with French secularism. Government officials in France are not allowed to wear ostentatious religious symbols at work to protect state neutrality, but Piolle said public service users, such as swimmers, were just members of the public who were free to dress as they wished.
The controversy has sparked political controversy ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections. This is not the first time that swimsuits have caused political controversy before a pre-election period. In the summer of 2016, in the run-up to the 2017 presidential election, about 30 French coastal resorts banned burkin on the beaches, at the initiative of the right-wing mayor of Cannes.
The Conseil d’Etat then ruled that the anti-Burkina Faso decrees were “a serious and manifestly unlawful attack on fundamental freedoms”, including the right of public movement and freedom of conscience.
Jordan Bardella, of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Coalition, said on Thursday that parliament should pass an anti-Burkina Faso law, which he said had no place in France and was a “politico-religious challenge”.