The two municipal swimming pools in the southeast French city of Grenoble have been shut down, despite the current heatwave, after a row over the use of full-body Islamic burkini swimsuit, the local mayor said Wednesday.
On Sunday, and last month, Muslim women clad in burkinis went to swim in the pools at the initiative of the Alliance Citoyenne rights group, despite a municipal ban on the full-body swimwear.
The lifeguards at the pools asked for the shutdown because “they are there to maintain safety and they can’t do that when they have to worry about the crowds,” generated by the controversial swimsuits, the town hall said in a statement.
“We are working towards a positive solution” to the problem, it added.
The row is the latest in France over face- and body-covering garments worn by Muslim women, which many perceive as subjugating women in a country with strict laws on secularism.
France — the country with Europe’s largest Muslim population — was the first European country to ban the full-veil in public spaces in 2011.
The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban in 2014, rejecting arguments that outlawing full-face veils breached religious freedom.