Following its examination of an appeal filed by the municipality of Grenoble concerning the suspension of the wearing of ‘burkinis’ in the city’s public swimming pools, the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, has rendered its final decision on the matter, banning the wearing of the Islamic garb in the municipality’s pools.
The court’s decision, rendered on Tuesday afternoon, comes roughly a month after Grenoble’s city council, led by its left-liberal mayor Éric Piolle, voted in favor of a controversial measure to permit women to wear full-body burkini swimsuits in public swimming pools—a decision that was subsequently challenged by the prefect of the department of Isére, which Grenoble is the capital of, Le Point reports.
At the time, the prefect, the top government official of the department, argued that the wearing of the burkini in public contravenes France’s principle of secularism, which insists religious affiliation remain a private affair and largely excluded from the public sphere.
One week later, on May 25th, the administrative court of Grenoble, ruled in favor of the prefect, saying that the city council—through allowing the wearing of burkinis in its municipal pools—had “seriously undermined the principle of public service neutrality.”
Now, that verdict has been upheld by France’s highest court, which in a statement concurred with the lower administrative court’s ruling that the Grenoble city council—through its approval of burkini-wearing in public schools—had undermined “the neutrality of public services.” The Council of the State also noted that the city council had passed the controversial measure to simply “satisfy a religious demand.”
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin hailed the court’s verdict, writing on social media: “The communitarianism of Eric Piolle, mayor of Grenoble, is definitively sanctioned by the Council of State which confirms the suspension of the deliberation “Burkini” of the city council. A victory for the “separatism” law, for secularism and beyond, for the whole Republic.”
Previously, Rassemblement National (RN) leader Marine Le Pen has referred to the burkini as an “Islamist propaganda outfit,” noting that lawmakers from her party would “propose a law to ban [the outfit] definitively.”
Following RN’s historic gains in the country’s recent legislative elections, RN President Jordan Bardella, echoed Le Pen’s sentiments on the burkini, saying that: “Obviously we need a big law” and “this is one of the subjects that we will bring to the National Assembly.”