Attack on secularism or preservation of religious freedom? The implicit authorization of the burkini in the new regulations for municipal swimming pools in Grenoble sparked a fundamental debate on Wednesday, May 25. But it is on a tiny detail of clothing that the case has rebounded. It is indeed because of the shape of the burkini that the administrative court pronounced the suspension of the deliberation voted by a narrow majority, at the municipal council of Grenoble, on May 16. This body-covering swimsuit, sometimes with a hood, has a floating skirt which, by definition, is not “close-fitting”. However, article 10 of the new Grenoble swimming pool regulations generally requires “close-fitting” outfits, in specific fabrics, nylon or lycra, but it is content to prohibit “outfits that are not close-fitting” only if they are “longer than mid-thigh (dress, long or flared tunic)”. According to the administrative judges, the provisions of the regulations were therefore only developed to respond to the authorization of the burkini, a garment with a religious connotation. “By derogating from the general rule of the obligation to wear fitted clothes close to the body to allow certain users to free themselves from this rule for a religious purpose, as is moreover recognized in the writings of the municipality , the authors of the disputed deliberation have seriously undermined the principle of neutrality of the public service”, justifies the court order. Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers For the mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle, secularism is played out elsewhere than at the swimming pool “Respect the principle of neutrality” The judges considered that users of the public service cannot free themselves common rules by relying on their beliefs. And they blame the municipality for having yielded to their request. “The administrative authority must respect the principle of neutrality and enact rules contributing to the maintenance of public order in its components of public safety, health and tranquility. There can be no derogation from the rules enacted with the aim of ensuring public order, ”says the ordinance. By asking for details on the shape of the burkini, at the end of the hearing, President Jean-Paul Wyss suggested that this point of dress raised questions. No speaker had anticipated it. The prefecture of Isère seized the administrative court under the “secularism referral”, established by the so-called “separatism” law, of August 24, 2021. The procedure, of a maximum period of forty-eight hours, makes it possible to contest any act by a community which “would seriously undermine the principles of secularism and neutrality of public services”. Sign of a case followed at the highest summit of the State, it is the director of public freedoms and legal affairs of the Ministry of the Interior who moved to Grenoble to plead the case. You have 47.74% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.
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