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Muslim women defy burkini ban at French pool

Muslim women in France have channelled pioneering civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks by defying a burkini ban at their local swimming pool.

The campaign in the southeastern city of Grenoble was promoted on Facebook by the Citizen Alliance, which said the protesters wanted the venue to "respect their freedom" by allowing them to wear the swimsuit.

Many cities and towns across the country enforce a ban on the burkini, which are designed to allow Muslim women to swim in public while adhering to strict Islamic rulings regarding their modesty.

Désobéissance civique des musulmanes grenobloises pour des piscines publiques qui respectent la liberté de conscience. @_Pourquoi @EricPiolle #burkini #islamoféminisme pic.twitter.com/nyAvjsryKK

— AllianceCitoyenne (@alliancecitoyen) June 23, 2019

The restriction is a controversial issue in France, which – along with some other European countries – does not allow women to wear the burka.

Proponents of the nationwide ban on the full-face veil have cited security concerns, while others have said it prevents those who wear it from integrating into society.

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Despite being warned by lifeguards that wearing the burkini – which does not cover the face – was an offence, the women who took part in the protest at the Jean Bron pool in Grenoble on Sunday were happy to accept the fines they received from police in order to make a stand.

According to news website France Bleu, officers fined the women 35 Euro (£31).

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Citizen Alliance said the women had been "inspired by Rosa Parks" to carry out the protest, which came ahead of what is expected to be a "remarkably intense" heatwave in France and other parts of Europe.

One of those involved, Taous Hammouti, said the women did not want to accept "another summer deprived of access to public pools".

File photo showing civil rights icon Rosa Parks at a ceremony where she was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, on June 15, 1999
Image: US civil rights icon Rosa Parks

It comes 64 years after their inspiration, Ms Parks, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to white passengers while riding on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Her defiance led to a boycott that eventually led to the end of racial segregation on buses in the US, which until then had forced black people to sit at the back and stand if a white customer did not have a seat.

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