A swimming pool in the Austrian capital of Vienna has stoked controversy by forcing a Muslim woman wearing the Islamic swimwear known as the burkini to leave the facility.
The Vienna Stadthallenbad swimming pool forced a Muslim woman to leave their pool on Friday after they said that her swimwear was inappropriate.
The woman, wearing the sharia-approved swimwear known as the burkini, is said to have been told to get out of the pool because the cotton garment did not meet the hygiene standards of the facility, reports Kronen Zeitung.
The woman involved claims that the pool had discriminated against her because she was a Muslim and not because her burkini was against any standards of hygiene. She also claimed that the swimwear was not made of cotton as the swimming pool had claimed, but rather was made out of the same fabric as all swimwear which is usually either lycra, polyester, or nylon.
A spokesman from the sports centre, Manfred Faly, said that there was no specific ban on the burkini in Vienna saying, “burkinis are basically all right – as long as it meets the hygiene and safety standards”. He insisted that any swimsuit must be made of a material that is both water resistant and dries quickly. Mr. Faly said that cotton isn’t a material that would meet those two standards.
The Stadthallenbad isn’t the first Austrian swimming pool to have banned the Islamic garment. The Lower Austrian township of Hainfeld banned the burkini after a local Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) councillor made the request also citing safety and hygiene concerns.
The burkini has also been banned in various towns in France, though not for hygiene reasons. Cities and towns along the French riviera, including Nice, the sight of a massive terror attack earlier this year, claim that the burkini is a religious garment and that it promotes the ideals of Islamic fundamentalism.
As of last month at least ten women had been punished by the authorities for wearing the burkini on public beaches. While the women were only fined around £32 each, their names will be recorded in the French criminal database.
Opposition to the French ban on the burkini reached all the way to the highest court in the country who overturned the ban saying that it “seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom”.
Even following that ruling, a court on the French island of Corsica upheld the ban after a riot in the town of Sisco, citing that prohibiting the garment was now valid to ensure that public safety was upheld.