Burkinis have been a long-standing catalyst for dispute in France, calling societal attitudes towards Islam and feminism into question.

France and Islam
French mayor reignites burkini row

Burkinis have been a long-standing catalyst for dispute in France, calling societal attitudes towards Islam and feminism into question. Rule changes in Grenoble suggest opposition to the garment could be receding, writes Joanna York

Burkinis have been a long-standing catalyst for dispute in France, calling societal attitudes towards Islam and feminism into question. Rule changes in Grenoble’s swimming pools suggest that opposition to the garment could be receding.

With summer opening times for municipal swimming pools soon to come, Grenoble's town hall will vote on May 16 on potential changes to swimwear rules.  

So far, so ordinary. It is not unusual for French swimming pools to issue strict swimwear regulations; in most, swimming caps and body-hugging, lycra outfits are a must. But in Grenoble, Mayor Éric Piolle wants to make the rules more permissive, especially for female swimmers.  

"Our wish is to get rid of absurd restrictions," he said. "This includes [allowing] bare breasts and swimming costumes that give extra coverage for sun protection or for beliefs. It is not about taking a position for or against the burkini specifically," he said. 

The burkini is a swimming costume that covers the entire body, including the head, leaving only the face, hands and feet visible. The planned change in Grenoble comes after protests in the city that began in 2018. In 2020 and 2021 a group of activists from the community grassroots association Alliance Citoyenne protested by wearing burkinis in Grenoble's swimming pools.

© France 24

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