This explosive theme, which has been in the news for several weeks now, appears soberly under the heading “Conditions and prices for access to municipal swimming pools” in the agenda of the municipal council scheduled from 3:00 p.m.
The meeting, which will be closed to the public but broadcast live, promises to be electric, with demonstrations in Grenoble and a controversy fueled by political positions.
The ecological mayor Eric Piolle keeps repeating that the burkini is a “non-subject” and that the modification of the internal regulations of municipal swimming pools only aims to “remove the aberrant clothing prohibitions” and to go to the against “injunctions on women’s bodies”.
He received the support of a hundred personalities including feminists like Caroline De Haas or Alice Coffin who believe in a recent forum that “no one should be stigmatized even in the basins because of their choice of jersey”.
But for its opponents, the burkini is a blatant symbol of 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 on the burkini 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.
“National dam against those who, like him, by electoralism, crawl before political Islam and its demands!”, castigates the president of the National Rally Jordan Bardella.
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.
– “Religious aims” –
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 on franceinfo, Mr. Piolle said he was “delighted that the government is attacking us”.
“I can’t wait for the government to explain to us how in a swimming pool, we should hide all our religious signs”, he launched, noting that he had “not attacked Rennes” when this city had taken a similar arrangement four years ago.
Before seizing his municipal council, the mayor of Grenoble had seized the Ministry of Sports in June 2019 “so that the government removes any form of ambiguity on the status of the covering swimsuit, in relation to hygiene and safety” . As the debate raged, he called on President Emmanuel Macron to “whistle the end of recess and clarify this state hypocrisy” on the issue.
In December 2018, seized on the refusal of access to an aquapark in the Somme to a Muslim woman in a burkini, the Defender of Rights Jacques Toubon concluded that “discrimination prohibited in particular by the law of May 27, 2008” on the fight against discrimination. But that didn’t stop the center from upholding the ban.