German Minister for Family, Pensioners and Youth Franziska Giffey rekindled the burkini debate after saying she has no objection to schools allowing the controversial full-body swimsuit for swimming lessons.
"The most important thing is the well-being of the children and that includes being able to swim," she told local newspaper Die Zeit on Sunday.
The Social Democrat family minister said it was "justifiable" for schools to not only allow the swimsuit to be worn, but to lend them out to students so they can participate in swim classes.
Giffey’s comments received criticism on social media by figures such as Muslim feminist and lawyer Seyran Ates.
"No they are not [referring to the minister saying that burkinis are acceptable] And the vast majority of the enlightened world yearns for the moment when this opinion is banned from the political process."
Other critics included Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner who said burkinis propagated a "misogynistic understanding in a place where children and teenagers are supposed to learn the opposite."
The debate is not new. Last week, a school in Herne — a city in North Rhine-Westphalia — caused a stir after it purchased burkinis so Muslim girls could participate in swim lessons. The girls had refused to do so because of religious reasons.
The local education union praised the decision as a pragmatic solution, while the district government also supported the school’s decision.