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French city allows burkini for Muslim women

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The French city of Grenoble has allowed Muslim women to wear burkini in the state-run swimming pools. The decision has once again spurred an intense debate on normalizing the religious dress in France.

Muslim women prefer to wear an all-in-one swimsuit at public swimming pools. Burkini covers the body and hairs of women. It is lightweight and allows women to swim while abiding by Islamic principles.

Secular and far-rights have called for a burkini ban. Burkini is banned in most state-run pools not for religious reasons but for hygiene purposes. Strict rules apply to swimwear for both men and women.

Grenoble’s mayor Eric Piolle has allowed the move but facing strong criticism from the opposition. Piolle gathered enough votes at a city council meeting to approve the move despite his party keeping its distance from the measure.

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“The #Grenoble city council has adopted the new internal rules for municipal pools. We are lifting clothing bans: only the rules of hygiene and safety count,” Grenoble mayor Eric Piolle tweeted. “All we want is for women and men to be able to dress how they want,” Piolle told broadcaster RMC on Monday.

“I want Muslim women to be able to practice their religion, or change it, or not believe, and I would like them to be able to go swimming,” he added. “I want them also to suffer less demands to dress in one way or another,” said Piolle in his statement.

The Islamic dress code has come under severe criticism from time to time in France. Far-right activists and seculars believe that dressing like Burka and practices like women covering their heads and faces with veils contradict the secular values of France. France banned burkini and other full veil clothing in public spaces in 2011.

However, the burkini is allowed in other European countries. The French government calls the new regulation ‘unacceptable provocation’ that is ‘contrary to our values.