A German court has ruled that a Muslim schoolgirl must take part in swimming lessons.
Thirteen-year-old Asmae who was born in Morocco and now lives in Frankfurt argued the school activity was against Islamic principles of modesty. She also objected to seeing boys in their swimming trunks.
“I don’t want to join the swimming lessons at school where boys also take part. I would take the lessons privately in order to learn to swim. I am a normal person and I want my freedom, my religious freedom,” she told reporters outside the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.
The judges ruled that religious freedom does not mean that a pupil has the right not to be confronted by the behavioural habits of others. The school in Frankfurt backed the court’s decision.
“We have a basic rule that all pupils swim. This has to be agreed and signed at enrollment when the children are registered here at this school,” explained Margaret Roessler, the school’s head.
Many Muslim pupils in Germany take part in mixed school swimming lessons dressed in what is known as a Burkini swim suit which covers all but the face hands and feet. The court said it serves the purpose of covering the body of Muslim women.