A Paris swimming pool has refused to allow a young Muslim woman to swim after she tried to enter while wearing a burqini, a full body covering that resembles a wet-suit with built-in hood, AFP reports. The burqini is made for Muslim women who want to swim and keep their body covered.
The woman had been allowed to swim at the pool in July, but when she returned in August she was told she could not enter without typical swim attire.
Pool staff "reminded her of the rules that apply in all (public) swimming pools which forbid swimming while clothed", said Daniel Guillaume, an official with the organisation that manages pools in the area.
The swimming-while-clothed controversy comes amidst a national debate in France over women wearing a burqa. In June, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said burqas are "not welcome" in France, as reported in the AP.
In a high-profile speech to lawmakers in the historic chateau at Versailles, Sarkozy said the head-to-toe Muslim body coverings were in disaccord with French values _ some of the strongest language against burqas from a European leader at a time when some Western officials have been seeking to ease tensions with the Muslim world.
"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause of the lawmakers gathered where French kings once held court.
"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement _ I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."
French lawmakers are conducting hearings on whether women should be allowed to wear the burqa in public.