Carole, 35, was in the habit of coming for a dip in the swimming pool at Emerainville (Seine-et-Marne) where she swam in a "burqini," an Islamic swimsuit composed of a veil, a tunic, and trousers. But this August 1st, she was refused entry to the pool by a head lifeguard. The reason: the management did not accept her outfit.
"Ready to leave France"
According to Le Parisien, on Wednesday, August 12th, the young woman immediately went to complain to the nearest police station, and does not plan to leave it at that. She wants to sue through the procureur of Meaux, and to alert the MRAP (Movement against Racism and for the Friendship Among Peoples). "It is segregation and I will fight to change things," she says angrily, before adding that she does not exclude "leaving France if I lose."
"A hygiene problem"
This young mother, converted to Islam at the age of 17, says she understands that "this could shock people, especially in France," but for her, that is not the problem. "They have shown me that it is a political problem," she proposes.
Yannick Decampois, directeur général of the syndicat d'agglomération of Marne-la-Vallée, which manages the swimming pools in the region, refutes this accusation. Interrogated by Le Parisien, he affirms that "it has nothing to do with secularism but with hygiene, just as long men's swimshorts are not allowed."
"Ridiculous bathing suit"
The deputy André Guérin (PCF) [Communist Party of France], president of the parliamentary inquiry into the wearing of the burqa in France, "supports the management of the swimming pool."
For him, "you may well see the face of the woman in this ridiculous outfit, but it's clearly militant provocation," he storms, before asking himself: "It's no doubt the beginning of a new problem." In the Netherlands, a polemic started in January 2008 after a female swimmer at the pool in Almelo was forbidden to swim because she was wearing this kind of clothes. The Burqini was invented in 2007 by an Australian-Lebanese woman, Aheda Zanetti. Also called "Hijood," the Islamic swimsuit became extremely popular after its debut but quickly created a controversy. In the United Arab Emirates, where Carole bought her burqini, by the way, it is much used. In Europe, it is in Scandinavian countries that it is most often tolerated.
--Nouvelobs.com, August 12, 2009