Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

Muslim women stage protest against French pool's burkini ban

The group were later fined Dh146 a head after defying the rules

In 1955, Rosa Parks made history when she refused to move to the back of a racially segregated bus.

More than 60 years later, a group of Muslim women have taken inspiration from American activist by staging their own protest, but in a very different setting.

Citing Parks's actions as motivation, the women took a stand against a French pool's outlawing of the 'burkini', by wearing the modest swimwear garment to the Jean Bron swimming centre in Grenoble on Sunday.

The burkini, which typically covers the hair, legs and arms of its wearer, has been banned at the pool, which is one of several locations in the city with such a dress code.

Despite being told by a lifeguard that their outfits were forbidden, the women spent an hour in the pool, though were later questioned by police and fined €35 (Dh146 each), the BBC reports.

The initiative was devised by the Citizen Alliance of Grenoble, a community group based in the city, to protest the rights of Muslim women.

According to a Facebook page posted by the group, seven women wore burkinis to the pool and were joined by 30 supporters.

The organisation added that the initiative formed part of a campaign launched in May 2018 to protest the rules at public swimming pools. The Citizen Alliance said a petition signed by more than 600 Muslim women had been addressed to Genoble’s mayor, Eric Piolle, as part of the ongoing efforts.

This is not the first time France's ban on Muslim dress has hit headlines; in 2010, it became the first European country to ban the niqab in public.

In October 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee criticised the so-called burqa ban, saying the law "violated" the rights of two women who were fined for wearing full-face veils in public.

The committee called for the women to be compensated and for a review of the 2010 law.

An estimated five million Muslims live in France and women who ignore the ban can be fined up to €150 (Dh629).

Updated: June 26, 2019 03:34 PM

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