No, this sign does not indicate that the burkini is prohibited in all swimming pools in Morocco

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Internet users relay the photo of a sign prohibiting the burkini which would be visible in front of Moroccan swimming pools. The image, which already sparked controversy five years ago, has in fact been circulating since 2014. If the sign is authentic and the photo well taken in Morocco, this ban only applies in certain private establishments and is debated in the country.

The photo of this green poster indicating “burkini interdits” in English, Arabic and French above the crossed out silhouette of a woman wearing the famous swimsuit that covers the entire body and head worn by some Muslim women, has been circulating for a few weeks on Twitter.

“This is the rule at the entrance to swimming pools in Morocco”, for example, advances a tweet of July 3 shared more than a thousand times, in particular by the French essayist Raphaël Enthoven who is ironic: “who will dare to denounce state Islamophobia and the systemic racism in Morocco. ”

The burkini ban would be generalized in Morocco according to the dozens of French-speaking accounts that have been relaying the image since mid-June, amassing hundreds of “likes” and retweets. “In Morocco #burkini is prohibited in swimming pools! Why do you want to allow these horrible outfits in France? ” (sic) note for example one of them. The mention of “swimming pools” sometimes even disappears in certain tweets: “I put that there, in #Morocco it is forbidden to #burkini” relates a tweet of July 1st.

By doing a reverse image search of the photo (see how to proceed here), we find many articles and tweets dating back to the summer of 2016. France was at the time agitated by the debate around the burkini on public beaches : in Cannes, Villeneuve-Loubet, Nice … several French mayors prohibit the full swimsuit on the beaches, a decision subsequently invalidated by the Council of State. Several Internet users then take the cliché of this green panel, arguing that “Morocco prohibits the burkini”. False information, denied at the time by the newspaper Liberation which then recalls in its column “Detox” that “no law in Morocco, nor decision at the municipal level, prohibits the burkini on the beach”. Because the ban on this type of poster is in fact limited to certain aquatic or hotel complexes that highlight health and safety reasons. Private establishments with their own regulations.

By continuing the reverse image searches, we find different photos of the same poster: in front of a tree for example or in PDF version. A photo with a tighter framing appeared on the web in 2014. She then illustrated Moroccan media articles written in the wake of a controversy surrounding a woman who was refused access to the swimming pool of a hotel in the city of ‘ El Jadida. The episode had even prompted a deputy to alert the Minister of Tourism at the time to denounce “an unacceptable interference in the freedom of people and their beliefs.”

According to several publications on the subject (such as This article of the regional daily Latest News from Alsace, this Facebook post of the French aquatic park “the bay of the pirates” or this post on a French-speaking forum) the sign would be found at the entrance of certain swimming pools in Marrakech, in particular in the Oasiria water park, to the south of the city.

There are indeed almost identical posters on 2019 photos of the entrance to the park visible on Google maps or on this page from their website. In this photo from 2017 left by a user on Google map, we even recognize the wall of the initial photo with another point of view. The only difference in all these images is that it says “attraction access”, and no longer “swimming pool access”, as in the photo that we see circulating on Twitter.

A ban in place in several Moroccan private establishments

Contacted, the park also confirms to the editorial staff of France 24 Observers that the ban is still in place to this day. Site FAQ specifies thus: “the burkini is not authorized within the park for reasons of hygiene and safety”, while underlining that there is a swimming pool offering hours reserved for women.

The park details the reasons for this ban on June 30, 2018 on TripAdvisor in an answer to the comment of a client annoyed at not being able to come in a burkini:

“Consider that in most public swimming pools on the planet, swimming trunks are prohibited for reasons of hygiene … Clothing covering the whole body is therefore quite simply incompatible with the very strict requirement that is ours in water cleanliness. Finally, this garment slips very badly on the slides, causing traffic jams and sometimes accidents. There is therefore no discrimination here, but the will on our part to ensure a high quality of service for all. ”

Other Moroccan water parks, as well as private swimming pools, have adopted similar rules, such as the Tamaris Aquaparc de Casablanca, the largest park in Morocco, as reported for example This article of Jeune Afrique dating from 2016. They can also be identified thanks to the comments and photos of signs prohibiting the bikini of annoyed customers on Trip Advisor, like here or here for Oasiria.

This ban is therefore limited to certain tourist complexes and private swimming pools, and not generalized to all of Morocco, as implied by a number of publications which relay the image. It is also not quite the same situation as in France, where elected officials wanted to restrict access to a public place, such as the beach.

The reemergence of the panel’s photo on social media in 2021 comes after a letter made public, on June 18, from the environmentalist mayor of Grenoble, Éric Piolle, to the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, who, without explicitly naming the burkini, calls for a national clarification of the rules in force on the bans on clothing in swimming pools, highlighting in particular that “national and international bodies confirm that only hygiene and safety justify the prohibition of swimming pool clothing.”

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