The administrative court of Grenoble on Wednesday suspended a very controversial provision authorizing the wearing of the burkini in the swimming pools of the city, at the heart of a showdown between the environmentalist mayor Eric Piolle and a large part of the political class.
The execution of Article 10 of the new Grenoble swimming pool regulations authorizing the use of burkini-type swimsuits is “suspended” by order, the judges said in a press release published in the evening. Eric Piolle announced shortly after that the city would “appeal before the Council of State”, in a short message posted on twitter.
The court ruled following the filing by the prefect of Isère of a “referred secularism” claiming its suspension. This provision was introduced by the separatism law voted in August 2021 and concerns acts which “seriously undermine the principle of secularism and neutrality of public service”.
The court considered that the article in question would allow users to “derogate from the general rule of the obligation to wear close-fitting outfits to allow certain users to free themselves from this rule for religious purposes”, and its authors thereby “seriously undermined the principle of public service neutrality”.
This new regulation, which opens the door to the burkini but also to topless bathing for women and anti-UV swimsuits for all, was adopted on May 16 by a narrow majority by the municipal council, some allies of the environmentalist mayor dissociating from the project, against a backdrop of national political storm.
The text was to formally enter into force on June 1. The summer opening of the municipal swimming pools of Grenoble is scheduled from June 13 to August 30.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin immediately welcomed this “excellent news” on Twitter.
“Following our appeal, the administrative court suspends the deliberation of the town hall of
Alain Carignon, leader of the municipal opposition who had also filed an appeal before the administrative court, also welcomed a decision which “marks a halt to separatist excesses and the will of part of the majority municipality behind its mayor to promote Islamism in the public space to the detriment of the cause of women”.
The judges in summary proceedings rendered their judgment in the evening after having heard for about an hour and a half the arguments of the various parties, the prefecture of Isère on the one hand, the City of Grenoble, the controversial association Alliance Citoyenne and the League of Human Rights on the other hand, during a hearing held earlier in the afternoon.
The wearing of the burkini has been claimed for several years by Alliance Citoyenne, which has made itself known by organizing since 2019 several punch operations in Grenoble swimming pools to get its message across.
A few members of the association attended the hearing, as well as a handful of activists from the UNI student association and an elected opposition member of the Grenoble city council, Brigitte Boer.
Pascale Léglise, Director of Public Liberties and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior and who represented the prefecture at the hearing, denounced a regulation which “disregards the general interest” and is therefore a “misappropriation of able”.
“Once the burkini is not banned, it will become a burning obligation, while it is a very minority fringe that claims it,” she argued, denouncing “pressure” from Alliance Citoyenne on Mr. Piole.
“One cannot help but think that this deliberation came at the right time for political reasons which have nothing to do with the general interest, which alone can justify a modification of these rules”, according to her.
Its main opponent, Me Aude Evin, representing the city of Grenoble, noted for her part that the new regulations do not authorize the burkini, which is nowhere named there, “but is content not to wear it. ‘to prohibit”. However, “only the law is capable of restricting the exercise of a freedom”.
She also brushed aside the accusations of “electoral clientelism” brought against Mr. Piolle, believing that “we are wandering outside the law”, as well as the supposed risks of breaching public order created by the burkini.
25/05/2022 22:26:13 – Grenoble (AFP) – © 2022 AFP