The Grenoble city council gave the green light on Monday to wearing the burkini in municipal swimming pools, after a tight vote on a divisive theme, at the heart of a national controversy for weeks.

Ecologist mayor Eric Piolle, at the head of a broad left-wing coalition, managed to muster the necessary number of votes although 13 members of his own majority declared themselves “in disagreement” and dissociated themselves from this very sensitive vote. .

The deliberation was adopted by 29 votes for, 27 against and two abstentions, after 2.5 hours of sometimes tense debates.

Now revised, the internal regulations require the wearing of a swimming cap and require swimsuits in “fabric specifically designed for swimming”, with shapes “adjusted close to the body” and reserved for use in the swimming pool. Any unfitted outfit “longer than mid-thigh” and swimwear-shorts are prohibited, as Sports Assistant Céline Mennetrier explained.

The new formulation will allow women to swim topless and all bathers to wear a swimsuit to protect them from the sun.

The environmentalist mayor Eric Piolle, who had been carrying the project for several weeks, brushed aside the opposition’s objections, citing a “feminist”, “health” and “secularism” fight because nothing in the law prohibits the wearing religious clothing in public spaces, “including at the swimming pool”.

Speaking before the election, the elected representatives of the opposition fired red balls at the mayor, accusing him pell-mell of “wanting to exist in the national media whatever the cost”, of behaving like a “Zemmour of left” or “deal an unprecedented blow against Muslim women who did not ask for anything”.

The vote passed, they expressed their deep disappointment and announced appeals “tomorrow” to obtain its cancellation. “You bear a very serious responsibility”, launched the former right-wing mayor Alain Carignon before ostensibly leaving the municipal council with his group in protest.

The prefect of Isère has already indicated on Sunday evening that he would seize the administrative court of Grenoble, on the instructions of the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin to block the measure. To do this, he should appeal to a provision introduced by the law on separatism passed in August 2021, which concerns acts “seriously undermining the principle of secularism and neutrality of public service”.

For his part, the president (LR) of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region Laurent Wauquiez, very quickly announced that “faced with this separatism”, the Region “immediately ceases all subsidies to the town hall of Grenoble”. He accused Eric Piolle of “definitively recording his break with secularism and the values ​​of our Republic”.

As for LR deputy Eric Ciotti, he tabled a bill in the National Assembly on Monday aimed at banning the burkini in public swimming pools in the name of secularism so as not to let mayors regulate between “strong community pressure” and “reasons ideological”.

“Everyone is fed up with these divisive subjects and many say they are today ashamed of being from Grenoble,” noted opposition elected El Hasni Ben Redjeb during the meeting.

A good hundred anti-Burkini demonstrators led by the municipal opposition had previously gathered at the foot of the building welcoming – under guard – the municipal council, chanting “Piolle resign!” and carrying placards proclaiming slogans like “Do not hide your face, burkini = misogyny”.

The Burkini dossier has been in the news for several weeks now, fueling heated debates as the legislative elections of June 12 and 19 approach.

For its opponents, this covering bathing suit is a blatant symbol of the oppression of women and is similar to the full veil that the Taliban have just reimposed on women in Afghanistan.

The wearing of the burkini was claimed by the controversial Alliance Citoyenne association, which has organized since 2019 several punch operations in Grenoble swimming pools to get its message across. Its members, gathered in a room in Grenoble, attended the city council meeting by video broadcast.

16/05/2022 22:50:53 – Grenoble (AFP) – © 2022 AFP