A French Muslim woman is seeking legal action after being banned from her local public swimming pool. The 35-year-old convert to Islam, known only as Carole, was stopped by bath attendants when she insisted on wearing a swimsuit which covered her entire body. She said the full-length lycra suit was not too figure-hugging but allowed her to swim freely. Carole had called several pools to see if they accepted cover-all costumes.
“Two categorically said ‘No” and the one in Emery said I should come by to check the material of the bathing suit,” explained Carole. A local official stressed the banning of the so-called “burkini” was not anti-Islam but more the need to comply with hygiene requirements. Daniel Guillaume from the local authority was adamant: “The rules in French swimming pools, public and private, prohibit boxer shorts, tee-shirts, shorts and bermudas, and this lady unfortunately came fully-dressed.” The issue has reopened the bitter row about how Muslim women should dress in France and comes as a government commission is looking into ways of restricting the wearing of the burka. President Sarkozy has declared it reduces a woman’s dignity.