The ban on the sharia-compliant swimwear known as the “burkini” has been overturned by the higher administrative court in the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate after a judge decided the ban violated the constitution.
The ban originated in the city of Koblenz and began on the 1st of January but was challenged by a Syrian asylum seeker who claimed that she required the swimwear for religious reasons and also needed to use the swimming pool because she suffers from back problems, Austrian tabloid Kronen Zeitung reports.
The original regulations stipulated that swimmers at local pools would only be allowed to wear swimming trunks, swimming shorts, bikinis, or bathing suits with exceptions granted for professional swimmers who were able to wear wetsuits as well.
According to the Higher Administrative Court, the ban violated the German constitution’s requirement for equal treatment. The city had argued that the burkini made it impossible to know whether or not those wearing them suffered from any hygienic issues or diseases that would normally have them refused from entry but the judges in the case criticised the reasoning of the city
German Family Minister Franziska Giffey of the Social Democrats defended the burkini saying that the swimwear was “completely acceptable”.
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The sharia-compliant swimwear has been a hotly debated issue in several other countries, such as France where it was initially banned on the French Riviera in 2016 but the ban was later overturned by a French administrative court in August of the same year.
Austria has also taken a hostile stance toward the burkini, with a swimming pool in the capital of Vienna ejecting a woman who wore the swimwear, also arguing that it was not conducive to proper hygiene.
Sweden, by contrast, has been far more supportive of those who chose to wear the burkini with the municipality of Hässleholm going as far as purchasing burkinis for young girls to encourage them to take up swimming lessons.