How the Council of State justifies the burkini ban in municipal swimming pools

No burkini in the municipal swimming pools of Grenoble. This Tuesday, the Council of State agreed with the prefect of Isère who opposed the new regulations adopted by the municipal council on May 16. A regulation which includes a “very targeted derogation” intended to “satisfy a religious claim”, according to the highest administrative court. Here are the arguments developed in his order.

A “religious claim”

The new regulations proposed by the mayor of Grenoble stipulated that access to the pools should be “exclusively” in bathing suits with “fabric specifically designed for swimming, fitted close to the body”. However, it allowed an exemption for outfits “not close to the body”, provided that they were “less than mid-thigh”. The word burkini is never mentioned there but, according to the judge in chambers, there is no ambiguity.

“Article 10 of the new regulations must be seen as having the sole purpose of authorizing bathing suits commonly referred to as burkinis”, he notes before recalling that the manager of a public service [la mairie] is “required to ensure respect for neutrality” and “equal treatment of users”.

If he recognizes that the municipality can take into account “certain specificities” in order to promote access to swimming pools for all audiences, he considers that this derogation introduced in the regulations is only “intended to satisfy religious convictions”. The reason ? The claim was brought by the controversial association Citizen Alliance, although Eric Piolle denies it. It emanates from “a category of users”, and not from all users and from the whole of the Muslim community, points out the judge in chambers.

An unequal measure and risk of disturbing public order

“Users have no rights”, he insists, relying on article 1 of the Constitution which prohibits “anyone from prevailing over their religious beliefs to free themselves from the common rules governing relations between communities. public and individuals.

According to the Council of State, the adaptations proposed by the mayor of Grenoble are likely to “undermine public order” and “harm the proper functioning” of swimming pools. In fact, the authorized freedoms, which do not have “real justifications”, “would make it more difficult for users not to benefit from the derogation to comply with these rules”, he points out. In the end, they could induce “a difference in treatment between users”, he fears. And to conclude: “It would be to ignore the obligation of neutrality of the public service”.

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