Row over Muslim swimming costume in Netherlands
A public swimming pool and municipality in the eastern Netherlands are at odds over whether or not visitors to public pools should be permitted to swim in out-of-the-ordinary costumes.27 February 2008
AMSTERDAM - A public swimming pool and municipality in the eastern Netherlands are at odds over whether or not visitors to public pools should be permitted to swim in out-of-the-ordinary costumes.
This follows an incident last week in which a woman wearing a swimming costume designed for Muslim women was told to leave the Hanzebad pool in Zwolle, the capital of Overijssel province, 120 kilometres north east of Amsterdam.
On Monday night the Zwolle municipality decided the swimming pool should allow female swimmers to wear the costume known as a burkini, which covers most of the body, leaving only the face, feet and hands exposed.
But on Tuesday the Hanzebad pool officials insisted burkinis would not be permitted, saying the costume does not meet the regulations on permitted swimwear set by the public swimming pools. In addition, the garment might "scare off" other visitors to the pool wearing regular swimwear.
Hanzebad pool director Hans Meijer told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the facility has for several years been offering separate hours for female swimmers, to accommodate particularly the needs of religious Muslim women.
Meijer claimed that the woman in question, a Dutch convert to Islam, had arrived at the pool during the regular hours "to make a statement."
He said the Hanzebad pool board and the municipality were negotiating consensus policy to resolve the issue.
[Copyright dpa 2008]