France’s legal battle over electricity continues: NPR

A Burkini (right) and a Klot swimmer (center) are on display at the Church of the Fame (Looking for a Woman) exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, March 30, 2017.

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A Birkini (right) and a Klot swimmer (center) are on display at the Church of the Fame (Looking for a Woman) exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany, March 30, 2017.

Christoph Ghetto / Photo Alliance via Getty Images

Grenoble, France – Grenoble Mayor Eric Powell was the first environmentalist to lead a major French city, and this year his alpine town has been named the European Green Capital. By the end of the year, Grenoble will meet all of its electricity needs with renewable energy.

But no one is talking about it, he says. On the contrary, Piolle is being attacked for allowing electricity in public ponds in her town.

He says in an interview in his office: “It simply came to our notice then.

Piolle grew up as a Roman Catholic and says that 30 years ago, there were more traces of Catholicism among the people. He says the religion that is most prevalent in France today is Islam, and it scares some people.

“I think they struggle with religious expression in public,” he says.

But the mayor says people are confusing things. While France has banned outward religious symbols in public schools or government offices to ensure neutrality, people are allowed to wear whatever they want in public.

In mid-May, the town council approved the wearing of a full-body bathing suit, commonly called an electrician, in Grenoble’s public municipal polls. Piolle said there was no reason to ban them.

Members of the Pro-Birkini Association Alliance sitoin are celebrating after members of the municipal council in Grenoble on May 16 voted in favor of allowing electric wear in the city’s swimming pools.

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Members of the Pro-Birkini Association Alliance sitoin are celebrating after members of the municipal council in Grenoble on May 16 voted in favor of allowing electric wear in the city’s swimming pools.

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The response was immediate. In a TV interview, far-right leader Marine Le Pen described the full-body swimsuit as a threat to French secularism and beyond.

“It’s a symbol of separatism and submission to women,” Le Pen said, “contrary to our values ​​and our constitution.” it is. How have Islamic fundamentalists taken over? Conquests with food or clothing may seem harmless, but they are very serious. “

It’s not just the far right. President Emmanuel Macron’s interior minister, a hardliner, called Grenoble’s decision “outrageous” and immediately filed a restraining order in court. The mayor has appealed.

Across the Grenoble train station is the office of Alliance Steven, a civil rights organization fighting for body bathing suits in public pools. Elise bin Azib is the head of the organization, which also fights for the rights of the disabled and the poor, and has recently campaigned for Muslim women who want to wear bathing suits that protect their private parts. does.

Alliance Citoyenne workers engage in civil disobedience in Grenoble Pool in June 2019.

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Alliance Citoyenne workers engage in civil disobedience in Grenoble Pool in June 2019.

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Bin Azib, a Muslim, says the group has never had a problem with its other work. But as soon as this came to the notice of Muslim women, they were politically harassed. He says Muslims are always suspected of having a secret agenda.

“If we say We just want to go to the swimming pool – and nothing else – they say, ‘Yeah, but then you’ll ask for separate swimming times. [for men and women] And then after that, you will ask to pray in the swimming pool, and then you will open the mosque in the swimming pool, ”he says and laughs. “Come on guys, get serious, we just want to swim.”

Along with Birkini, the group is also pushing for the release of boxer’s trunks in notoriously banned French public pools, known as “monocini”, meaning to be naked.

Two community administrators are also in the office. The women, Yasmina and Anisa, both in their early 30’s, did not want to reveal their last names because they were receiving threats online. Anisa says the work began four years ago.

“We met some women who were discriminated against because they could not go to the pool because of their hijab and because they could not wear regular bathing suits,” she said. “So here they were making picnic lunches for their children and husbands to go to the pool, yet they could not join them.”

Pool parties help launch the Barqini campaign.

Women say Grenoble is very hot in summer because the surrounding mountains trap heat. And people rely on public pools for cooling. He began his campaign with letters and some very positive meetings with local officials. But then nothing happened. So they threw a few pool parties.

In the videos of these parties, people are wearing barkini and bikinis and they include many non-Muslims. Workers shout slogans and sprinkle in a public pool.

He says it was a positive experience because the other swimmers were interested in what they were doing and were able to tell him about the problem. But other so-called pool parties were less successful. Anisa says that once she was stopped by police officers from entering the pool, she “felt like a criminal”.

Once again, pool workers called security, who drove all other swimmers out of the pool.

“It was very violent for us because we felt we were dirty or something because they would not let other swimmers swim with us,” says Anisa.

These women, both wearing hijabs, insist that Barqini has nothing to do with Islamist extremism. The mayor agrees. Women say extremists never allow their wives to go to the pool.

But after two major terrorist attacks in France in 2015 and the beheading of a schoolteacher in 2020 – all through self-proclaimed Islamist extremists – many French people have established a link between religious dress and possible radicalism. ۔

France’s 1905 law on secularism guarantees the separation of religion and state and the free practice of all religions. It does not discourage religious expression. Piolle says that since the terrorist attacks, people have been trying to break the law and ban religious expression in public.

For Alliance Citoyenne’s Anisa and Yasmina, everyone has equal rights to be able to wear electric. “That’s all we want. No more rights, just like everyone else,” says Anisa. “We don’t want to be second-class citizens. If we pay taxes, we need access like everyone else.”

Activists say they do not want to publicize public pools, as some have alleged, or take the issue further. Both women went to government schools where hijab is not allowed. “We support secularism and there is no problem with it,” says Anisa.

Yasmina says that people often mix everything up when talking about the niqab: “They think that our husband or father forces us to wear it, which is completely wrong.”

People compare them to women in Afghanistan or Iran. Yasmina says France is acting hypocritically, behaving like a dictatorship which she criticizes.

“Not allowing women to wear whatever they want is as oppressive as forcing women to wear the niqab,” she says. “These are two sides of the same coin: tyrants who want to impose dress restrictions on women.”

Piolle, the mayor, agrees. “It’s crazy when you start regulating people’s clothes in such detail,” he says.

It is worth noting that no one looks at allowing topless bathing in swimming pools.

Piolle says he was impressed by the ridicule. “We have a climate emergency and there is a war in Ukraine and the country is focusing on five or 10 women who want to wear different bathing suits in the swimming pool,” he said.

Grenoble Mayor Eric Powell arrived at the municipal council as people protested in front of the Grenoble metropolitan police headquarters on May 16 after the municipal council voted to allow electric wear in the city’s swimming pools.

Jeff Pachaud / AFP via Getty Images


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Grenoble Mayor Eric Powell arrived at the municipal council as people protested in front of the Grenoble metropolitan police headquarters on May 16 after the municipal council voted to allow electric wear in the city’s swimming pools.

Jeff Pachaud / AFP via Getty Images

The women of Alliance Citoyenne say they received 2,600 signatures on their petition to allow Barqini, while only 50 were needed to meet with town officials. Yasmina says she feels proud and powerful, even though her scale is currently blocked.

“We have this issue on the town council’s agenda and we have the support of the mayor,” says Yasmina. “Now we are being taken seriously by feminist organizations who have not taken our struggle for granted before. This is a victory for us and for Grenoble.”

Activists are influenced by the American civil rights movement.

The group’s offices have a large poster with a history of civil disobedience all over the world. Ben Aziz says the group was deeply influenced by the American civil rights movement of the 1960s – lunch counter-sit-ins and other non-violent acts of civil disobedience by individuals such as Rosa Parks, who turned his bus seat white. The skinny man refused to give up.

“It’s interesting to see how a single woman – Rosa Parks – can change everything. You know the narrative about black women, the narrative about separation, etc .. It was very inspiring for us,” she said. They say

Bin Azib says he watched the videos and read the speeches. “We want to change the way we look at Muslim women in France,” she says.

A court ruling on allowing electricity in Grenoble ponds is expected any day. Bin Azib says if he does not win, he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

“We need to follow through,” he says, “because we’ve spent so much time and energy, and we have so many people who trust us to keep fighting.” “

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