August 14, 2009

Burqini banned in Paris swimming pool

by Sara Levy

A Muslim convert has been banned from a Paris-area swimming pool after she turned up to swim in a burqini, a head-to-toe swimming costume.

The woman, known only as Carole, was allowed to swim in her burqini in the public pool earlier this year, but was denied access when she returned this month.

“Quite simply, this is segregation,” Carole told Le Parisien newspaper.

“I bought it thinking that I could enjoy swimming without having to uncover myself.”

Daniel Guilaume, a spokesperson for the pool’s management, said staff at the pool “reminded her of the rules that apply in all swimming pools which forbid swimming while clothed.”

The burqini, originally designed by Australian Muslim Aheda Zanetti, is a wet suit with a built in hood, covering the whole body except the feet, hands, and face.

Zanetti, who designed the polyester swimming costume in 2003, said she is not surprised by resistance to the suit in France, as it was initially banned in almost every country she exported it to.

“The Netherlands just approved it after discriminating against it, it’s approved in Germany, Sweden, Austria,” she said.

“They banned it for a long time and it’s only in the last couple of years that that’s stopped.

“They just approved it in the UK after making a big fuss about it and banning it from public pools.”

She added that Carole’s burqini, bought in Dubai, was not an original design.

“They’re using lycra (in that swimsuit) and using it in such a large amount is going to be very very heavy, it’s quite unsafe to swim in,” she said.

“It’s also got three or four separate pieces, her head piece is unattached to her top, which is going to make it very distracting while she’s swimming.”

French lawmakers are currently debating where the ban the full-cover burqa, the traditional clothing for Muslim women.

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