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Muslim Bikini Controversy

Muslim bikini stirs controversy in Europe

Hazel Heyer, eTN Staff Writer  Oct 19, 2009

Following an incident in France involving a Muslim woman who was told she was violating pool regulations - while wearing her Muslim swimsuit consisting of a headscarf, tunic and trouser outfit which allows Muslim women to preserve their modesty in the water, another makes headlines elsewhere. French Hajjia Carole was told by the manager of the resort that her swimwear was against the rules that apply in all swimming pools that forbid swimming while clothed was not the last one to suffer from the Islamic clothing code. Evicted from the public pool for wearing a burkini, the 35-year-old Carole is threatening legal action.

While France is currently considering an outright ban on all Islamic dress, such as the head-to-toe burka or niqab, which the country considers inappropriate, England is doing the opposite.

Recently, the Watani International reported that the UK is doing something France is rejecting. Local councils in England are running restricted swimming sessions for Muslims. Under the rules, swimmer, including non-Muslims, are barred from entering the pool in normal swimming attire. Instead they are told that they must comply with the code of dress required by Islamic custom, with women covered from the neck to the ankles and men, who swim separately, covered from the navel to the knees, said Watani reporter Peter Sawer.

Obviously,the phenomenon runs counter to developments in France. ‚ÄúAcross the UK municipal pools are holding swimming sessions specifically aimed at Muslims, in some case imposing strict dress codes.The Croydon council in south London runs separate one-and-a half-hour swimming sessions for Muslim men and women every Saturday and Sunday at Thornton Heath Leisure Center,‚ÄĚ added Sawer. Female swimmers were told on the center‚Äôs website ‚Äúthat during special Muslim sessions male costumes must cover the body from the navel to the knee and females must be covered from the neck to the ankles and wrists."

Similar rules imposed in the Scunthorpe Leisure Center in North Lincolnshire, where ‚Äúusers must follow the required dress code for this session -T-shirts and shorts/leggings that cover below the knee,‚ÄĚ said theWatani International reporter.

In Glasgow, a men-only swimming sessionis organised by a local mosque group at North Woodside Leisure Center, at which swimmers must be covered from navel to knee. At a women-only class organized by a Muslim teacher at Blackbird Leys Swimming Pool, Oxford, to encourage Muslim women to learn to swim, most participants wear ‚Äúmodest‚ÄĚ outfits although normal costumes are permitted, said

The dress codes have provoked an angry reaction among critics who say they encourage division and resentment between Muslims and non-Muslims, putting strain on social cohesion, he added. The traditional, all-enveloping burqa has been a daily wear in ultra-conservative Afghanistan. It is worn with a Shalwar Khameez, the Asian trousers and top underneath it. The new Burqini, obviously Burqa and Bikini put together, is tight-fitting, hugs the body allowing allow women to do a few laps in the water.

On safety, no studies have been made yet amid this brewing controversy in France and the UK about its approved use by Muslimah’s in public pools.

Nevertheless, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is working hard to eliminate this swimwear in accordance with the country's low tolerance of the Islamic way of life. The government has expressed its non-acceptance of the veil, niqab and hijab several times in the past - much to the dismay of the large Muslim population in France.

Muslim bikini stirs controversy in Europe
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