Lady wearing Burqa bikini kicked out of pool

Une femme habillée en "burqini".
Source: Agence France Presse / ANOEK DE GROOT

An update on the Burqa controversy brewing in France.

American Freethought reports that a woman was thrown out of a swimming pool in France because of the swimsuit she was wearing. She was wearing a full-bodied "burqini", which is swimwear meant to comply with Islam’s rules on women dressing in public. Here is a link to a French article about the incident.

As you may recall, French president Nicolas Sarkozy created controversy when he said that burqas "are not welcome" in France. The pool claims that they did not eject the woman from the pool because it was a form of burqa, but because of sanitation rules. The woman, identified only as Carole, calls it a case of "segregation", according to the Le Monde article.

Here’s a quote from the mayor of Emerainville, the town where the incident occurred. (Translation mine)

All this has nothing to do with Islam, because pool regulations don’t allow people to swim while dressed for reasons of public health, as is [also] the case for boxer shorts.

There are three questions I have about the issue:

Was she wearing this outfit before coming to the pool? If so, then there is a possible argument for this since there may be germs from outside that would be brought into the pool, just like if one was wearing underwear, socks, etc. that one had on before. If she put it on at the pool, I think they have a harder time trying to defend kicking her out.

What material is the burqini made of? According to Wikipedia’s entry on the burqini , it is generally made of the same material as wetsuits are. If this is the case, then there is less of an argument about refusing her since even though the shape of the swimsuit is different, it’s the same material as many swimsuits worn in pools.

Is it her choice to wear the burqini, or does she do it because her husband or mosque tells her she has to? If it’s truly her choice, I have less of a problem with it. The article has a comment by a representative in the French parliament saying she thinks it’s surprising that someone would call the press immediately after leaving a pool, implying that the incident may have been planned. If it was a planned way of protesting and the woman was okay with it, then I have no problem with that.

If the burqini is the same material, shows her face, she’s choosing herself to wear it, and she isn’t causing a health problem, I think it would be difficult to justify prohibiting them from the pool. As much as I dislike the sexist, anti-feminist ways of promoted by the Quran and many who follow Islam. There are also full-body swimsuits worn by non-Muslims, so unless you ban those I don’t see how you can ban the burini unfortunately.

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