The file, which has been in the news for several weeks now, appears soberly under the heading “Conditions and prices for access to municipal swimming pools” on the agenda of the meeting which opened around 3:00 p.m. If the modification is adopted, the burkini but also bare breasts will be authorized in these swimming pools.
A good hundred anti-Burkini demonstrators led by the municipal opposition gathered at the foot of the building hosting – under guard – the meeting of the municipal council, chanting “Piolle resign!” and carrying placards proclaiming slogans like “Do not hide your face, burkini = misogyny”.
Ecologist mayor Eric Piolle opened the session by confirming that the council would debate “women’s freedom of dress in access to public swimming pools in Grenoble” despite calls to remove this issue from the agenda. He called for doing so in “listening and tolerance”.
He denounced “the injunctions on women’s bodies” and those who “allow themselves to comment in a more or less threatening way on the physical appearance of women and the way they dress” recalling that Grenoble, from by its past, is “a feminist city”.
Mr. Piolle keeps repeating that the burkini is a “non-subject”. According to him, the modification of the internal regulations of municipal swimming pools only aims to “remove the aberrant clothing prohibitions”.
He received the support of a hundred personalities including feminists who believe in a recent forum that “no one should be stigmatized even in the basins because of their choice of jersey”.
For its opponents, the burkini is a blatant symbol of the oppression of women and is similar to the full veil that the Taliban have just reimposed on women in Afghanistan.
In a few weeks, and as the legislative elections approach, the debate has turned into a political storm, the two camps clashing with tribunes, petitions and strong positions.
Mr. Piolle “does not realize the harm he is doing to our republican values,” said Prisca Thévenot, one of the spokespersons for the presidential majority party LREM.
The large left-wing coalition led by the mayor itself appears divided, which could augur a tighter vote than expected among the 59 elected: to the votes of the 14 opposition councilors would be added 13 votes of elected from the majority opposed to the measure, which they consider carries “risks of aggravation of social fragmentation”, according to the regional daily Dauphiné Libéré.
– “Community claims” –
The prefect of Isère announced on Sunday evening that he would seize the administrative court of Grenoble, on the instructions of the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin in the event of the adoption of the measure.
The “manifest objective is to give in to community demands with religious aims” and the proposed modification “seems to contravene the principle of secularism laid down by the law of 1905 as well as the provisions of the law of August 24, 2021 confirming respect for the principles of the Republic,” according to a statement.
The prefect specifies that he intends to appeal to a provision introduced by the law on separatism voted in August 2021, which concerns acts “seriously undermining the principle of secularism and neutrality of the public service”.
Reacting to this announcement Monday morning, Mr. Piolle said he was “delighted that the government is attacking us”.
“I can’t wait for the government to explain to us why in a swimming pool, we should hide all our religious signs”, he launched, noting that no one had “attacked Rennes” when this city had taken a similar step. Four years ago.