Aug 31, 2009
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Oslo allows 'burqini' swimsuits in city pools

Aug 31, 2009

OSLO (AFP) — Oslo city authorities have specifically authorised Muslim woman to use municipal swimming pools while wearing all-over swimsuits, a local official told NRK radio Friday 28 August.

Photo: AFP

"Some people say they need to cover up," Jan Zander, responsible for sports and recreation, said. "We think it is important that those who live in this city can bathe and use the pools."

A Paris swimming pool recently refused entry to a young Muslim woman wearing a so-called "burqini", which resembles a wetsuit with built-in hood.

Officials cited hygiene rules, adding to tensions over Muslim dress in France and sparking a threat by the woman of a lawsuit.

The anti-immigration mayor of the northern Italian city of Varallo Sesia has also barred Muslim women from wearing the swimsuit, on pain of a fine of 500 euros (700 dollars) if spotted at swimming pools or riversides.

"The sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene," mayor Gianluca Buonanno was quoted as saying.

The new Oslo regulations quoted by the radio said swimmers who cover their bodies for cultural and religious reasons have to wear clean clothing designed specially for bathing.

Zander denied that such garments were necessarily unhygienic.

"Look at professional swimmers, they use all-over swimsuits. If the material can be used in the water, there is no problem. The size of the costume should not be a criteria."

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