Photo Alliance by Christoph Gateau / Getty Images
Grenoble, France — The mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle, was the first environmentalist to lead a major city in France, and this year his alpine city was named the Green Capital of Europe. By the end of the year, Grenoble will meet all electricity needs with renewable energy.
But no one is talking about it, he says. Instead, Pior was murdered for allowing Burqini into a public swimming pool in his town.
“It touched a very intense emotion for people,” he says in an interview in his office.
Worse grew up a Roman Catholic and says there were more signs of Catholicism in public 30 years ago. He says the most prominent religion in France today is Islam, which is overwhelming some people.
“I understand that they struggle with religious expression in public,” he says.
But the mayor says people are confusing things. France bans religious symbols in public schools and government agencies to ensure neutrality, but people can wear whatever they want in public.
In mid-May, the city council approved the wearing of a full-length bathing suit, commonly known as a burqini, at a municipal public swimming pool in Grunouble. Worse said there was no reason to banish them.
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The repulsion happened immediately. In a television interview, far-right leader Marine Le Pen called her full-length swimsuit a threat to French secularism and beyond.
“It’s a sign of separatism and obedience from women,” Le Pen said. “The opposite of our values and the Constitution. This is How do Islamic fundamentalists take power? Food and clothing-related victories may seem harmless, but they are very serious. “
It’s not just the extreme right. The hardliners, President Emmanuel Macron’s interior minister, called Grunouble to decide the provocation and immediately filed an injunction in court to stop it. The mayor appealed.
Opposite the Grenoble station is the office of Alliance Citoyenne, a citizens’ association that struggles to accept over-the-top swimwear in public swimming pools. Elies Ben Azib leads an organization that fights to protect the rights of the disabled and the poor and, more recently, has been working on a fight for Muslim women who want to wear swimwear that protects their humility.
Ben Ajib, who happens to be Muslim, says the group has never had any problems with other jobs. However, there was immediate political harassment of Muslim women. He says Muslims are suspected of always having a hidden agenda.
“If we say We just wanna go to the pool – nothing more – they say ‘yeah but then you ask for another swim time [for men and women] So you’re going to pray by the pool and ask to open a mosque by the pool,” he says and laughs.
In addition to Burqini, the group is also pushing boxer briefs into France’s infamous restricted public pool, becoming what’s known as “Monokini,” or topless.
Two community organizers are also in the office. Thirty-something women, Yasmina and Anissa, are under threat online and don’t want to name them. Anissa says her work started very simply four years ago.
“I knew a woman who felt discriminated against because she couldn’t get into the pool because of her hijab and couldn’t wear her normal bathing suit,” she says. “So here they were having picnics for the kids and their husband to go to the pool, but they couldn’t join them.”
Pool party helps start Burqini campaign
Women say that Grenoble gets very hot in the summer because the mountains around it retain heat. And people rely on public pools to cool off. They started the campaign with a letter and a very positive meeting with the local authorities. But then nothing happened. So they had some pool parties.
In these party videos, people are wearing burkinis and bikinis, with many non-Islamic participants. Activists chant the slogan and dive into the public pool.
They say it was a positive experience as other swimmers became interested in what they were doing and were able to talk about the problem. However, other so-called pool parties were not very successful. Anissa says that after the officers were prevented from entering the pool because they “feel like delinquents”.
At another point, a pool employee called security who took all the other swimmers out of the pool.
“It was very violent for us because we didn’t allow other swimmers to swim with us, so we felt dirty or something,” Anissa said. increase.
These women, both wearing hijabs, claim that the burqini has nothing to do with Islamic extremists. The mayor agrees. The women explain that the militants will never allow their wife to go to the pool.
However, after two major terrorist attacks in France in 2015 and teachers being beheaded in 2020, all by self-proclaimed Islamic extremists, many French people are religious. It combines good clothes with the possibilities of fundamentalism.
The French law of 1905 on secularism guarantees the separation of religions and nations and the free practice of all religions. It does not discourage religious expression. Worse says that since the terrorist attacks, people have twisted the law to ban public religious expression.
For Anissa and Yasmina of the Citoyenne Alliance, being able to wear a burkini means having the same rights as anyone else. “That’s all we want. Like everyone else, we no longer have rights,” says Anissa. “We don’t want to be second-class citizens. If we pay taxes, we need to be accessible like everyone else.”
Activists say they don’t want to Islamize public swimming pools, or take the issue further, as some have claimed. Both women attended public schools where hijab was not allowed. “We support secularism, and that’s okay,” says Anissa.
Yasmina says that when it comes to a veil, people often confuse everything.
People compare them to women in Afghanistan and Iran. Yasmina says he behaves like a dictatorship criticized by France and acts hypocritically.
“Not letting a woman wear what she wants is as oppressive as putting a veil on a woman. They are two sides of the same coin. It is an oppressor who wants to impose dress restrictions on women.”
Mayor Worse agrees. “When we start to regulate people’s clothes in such detail, it’s weird,” he says.
It’s worth noting that no one seems to be blind to allowing topless sunbathers in the pool.
Worse says he’s touched by all that nonsense. “Ukraine is experiencing weather emergencies and wars, and Ukraine is focusing on 5-10 women who want to wear different swimwear at the pool,” he says.
Jeff Pachoud / AFP via Getty Images
Alliance Citoyenne women say they signed a petition to authorize Burqini at 2,600, although only 50 people were needed to meet with city officials. Yasmina says she feels proud and powerful, even though her measurements are currently blocked.
“We put this issue on the City Council’s agenda and it is defended by the mayor”, says Yasmina. “We are now taken seriously by a feminist organization that initially did not consider our struggle to be feminist. These are victories for us and for Grenoble.”
Activists are inspired by the US civil rights movement
The group’s office has a large poster with a history of civil disobedience around the world. Ben Ajib says the group was highly inspired by the US civil rights movement in the 1960s. Namely, sitting at the lunch counter and other non-violent civil disobedience by individuals like Rosa Parks, who refused to give up their seats. bus to white men.
“It’s interesting to see how one woman, Rosa Parks, can change everything. You know stories about black women, stories about separation, etc. It’s for us. It was very exciting,” she says.
Ben Ajib says they watched videos and studied speeches. “I want to change the view of Islamic women in France,” he says.
The court’s decision on whether or not to allow the burkini in the Gournoble swimming pools is always expected. Ben Ajib says they will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if they don’t win.
“We need to move on because we spend a lot of time and energy, and there are a lot of people who trust us to keep fighting,” he says. increase.