Inspired by US rights activist Rosa Parks, a group of French Muslim women have defied a burkini ban at their local swimming pool in the southeastern city of Grenoble, bathing in suits covering their entire bodies.
Speaking to the BBC, two of the Muslim women involved in the protest, Hassiba and Latifa, said they should have the same rights as other citizens.
“We have a dream: to have fun in public swimming pools like all other citizens, to accompany our children whenever they want to have a swim while it is very hot in the summer here in Grenoble.
“We must fight against discriminatory policies and prejudice in France, as we are actually deprived of our civil rights of access to public services and city-owned infrastructures.”
“Operation Burkini” was launched last month by members of the group Citizen Alliance of Grenoble to defend what they say is the right of Muslim women.
Changing into burkinis, the lifeguards at Jean Bron swimming pool told them that the full-body swimming suit was not allowed.
Despite this, they entered the pool and bathed for about an hour with members of the community, many of whom cheered and applauded them for doing so.
The women were later questioned by police and each fined €35 ($40; £30) for breaching the rules, news outlet France Bleu reported (in French).
In a Facebook post, the Citizen Alliance said the move was part of a campaign that began in May 2018 with a petition signed by more than 600 Muslim women urging the Genoble Mayor Éric Piolle to reform the rules governing public swimming pools.
There is no national law against the burkini but in 2016, a series of towns banned the garment from beaches, in Cannes, Corsica, and Le Touquet, on the grounds that it was an ostentatious religious symbol at odds with French secularism.
The decision was criticized by many commentators who see burkini as something that grants so many women access to sports and experiences they would have otherwise avoided because of health, body or religious concerns.
Anger has maximized after a series of photos showed four police officers armed with handguns, batons and pepper spray standing around the woman who was lying on the beach wearing a blue headscarf and matching the top.
In October 2018, the mayor of Rennes city, Brittany in northwestern France, allowed women wearing the outfit in council pools.
This article was originally published on aboutislam.net