In a column published on Wednesday, forty-two departmental councilors from Isère asked Eric Piolle, the mayor of Grenoble, to withdraw his deliberation on the regulations for municipal swimming pools. Monday, May 16, the proposal must be submitted to the vote of the elected officials during the municipal council. The new regulation proposed by the ecologist consists in lifting the prohibitions in force for ten years. This would allow women to be able to bathe topless or in a burkini. A measure that does not pass, mainly on this last point.
The burkini is a “clothing sign of oppression and inferiority of women”, protest Jean-Pierre Barbier, the president of the department of Isère, and the elected representatives of his majority. “It aims, purely and simply, to impose Islamist standards in the heart of public bathing and leisure areas. It is not a fashion accessory but a tool in the service of an ideology which denies equality to women”, the departmental advisers reproaching the ecologists for wanting “to challenge the very legitimacy of the republican law on the religious fact”.
Question of equality in public service or secularism?
Asked about the subject by 20 minutes, Eric Piolle had indicated that it was not a question of secularism but rather a “question of equal access to public service”. “We refuse that a public space becomes the place of expression of an ideology (…). Our common culture is that of France, which fraternally welcomes believers and non-believers of all faiths far from all communitarianism,” the metropolitan councilors again answer.
Christophe Ferrari, president of the metropolis of Grenoble, also opposed this decision. “It’s a debate, a crusade which is carried by Eric Piolle alone against his territory”, he accuses on the set of France 3 Alpes. In the process, 38 mayors of Isère municipalities and 21 metropolitan councilors from all political stripes joined him by signing an appeal in turn. “Allowing differences in bathing attire based on religious practice, regardless of that religion, would destroy this space of freedom, equality and fraternity, this eminently republican space,” they write.
At the beginning of the month, the president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region had threatened the mayor of Grenoble to withdraw all regional subsidies if he had this deliberation adopted.