European court says Muslim girls can’t skip swim class

EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

European Court of Human Rights rules Muslim girl must attend swimming lesson with boys.

European court says Muslim girls can’t skip swim class


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The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ruled that Muslim girls in Switzerland will not receive exemptions from mixed-sex swim classes on the basis of religion.

As reported by The Christian Science Monitor, the case was brought by a Turkish-born couple who received fines in Switzerland for keeping their daughters out of mixed-gender, mandatory public-school swimming lessons, citing restrictions stemming from their Muslim faith.

Weighing religious freedom against a need to integrate children into the nation’s “customs and mores,” the European Court of Human Rights announced the ruling in favour of Switzerland on January 10.

“The children’s interest in attending swimming lessons was not just to learn to swim, but above all to take part in that activity with all the other pupils, with no exception on account of the children’s origin or their parents’ religious or philosophical convictions,” the court said in a statement regarding its decision.

A Swiss law allows parents of children who have reached puberty to pull them from the mixed-sex lessons, but this recent case did not meet that requirement. The authorities had also offered flexible arrangements to the parents, saying that the girls could wear burkinis if they chose, according to the statement.

The parents were fined nearly €1,300 for “breach of parental duty” in 2010.

As reported by Al Jazeera, the court ruled that the fine imposed on the parents was proportionate to the aim.

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