Sarkozy: No separate swimming hours for Muslim women

French president also says halal meat must be clearly labelled

"There is no place for pools with hours for men and hours for women." (AFP/Getty Images)

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a clear labeling of halal meat and an end to separate swimming hours for Muslim females in public schools as he vowed to defend secular rules in France.

Sarkozy, currently campaigning for his re-election, pledged to uphold secular values in France, including cutting the number of immigrants to the country if he wins a new five-year term in a two-round election in April and May.

“There is no place in the republic for xenophobia, there is no place for racism... There is no place for pools with hours for men and hours for women,” Sarkozy told a rally in Bordeaux.

“Let’s recognise everyone’s right to know what they’re eating, halal or not. I’d like to see, therefore, the ticketing of meat according to its method of slaughter.

“We have to consider our holidays, the church and cathedral towers in our villages and towns, our eating habits, our morality, as aspects of our civilisation not just our religion: the civilisation of the French Republic,” he added.

In France, where a strict separation of church and state has been in force for a century, public displays of religious activity are frowned upon. An estimated five million Muslims live in France - the largest minority in any European country.

France banned the public wearing of face veils last year, including Arabic-style niqab and Afghan-style burqa. Those caught wearing them were liable to a fine of up to €150 or mandatory lessons in French citizenship.

The ‘burqa ban’, the first of its kind, was followed by a ban on praying in the streets in September last year.

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Posted by: irfan

if this is about swimming during school activites such as physical education then I suppose the French govt has and should accomodate these muslim women or any student who has a requirement religious or other wise. Remember people, this is the democratic civilized world that has to take a lead in these things. i mean some people there still think muslims are not advanced in anything. Going the opposite way by stopping rights wont add to anything. besides isnt govt supposed to stay out of peoples personal choices in a democratic and free country?

if it is about non school related activites then Muslims there should build thier own swimming pools.

Posted by: Amused in Dubai

Or, you know, the muslim women or any student could accommodate the laws of the land, as we are so often advised.
The French model has never been about multiculturalism (that is the British, mind you) but about integration, and that means accepting the French customs and way of life while on the public sphere.

Posted by: P.M.Shah

Non muslim , non Saudi women living in Saudi Arabia are ALL forced to wear the Abaya and they do so without protesting knowing it is the culture and the law of the land. So why can't Muslims living in Europe learn to accept the law of the land with good grace ?

If you are so religious as to find not wearing a veil , or wearing a swim suit in public uncomfortable then may be you have to relocate !

Even my mother, who is fairly conservative learned to shake hands with men when she traveled to the USA. It did not make her any less religious or less pure.

Posted by: Ted Nations

Your all missing the point - it's not about religion or whether one feels confortable in one's own skin - it's about France staying French.

I've lived and worked all around the World and the one thing I have learnt is to try and adapt to the way of life of your new country and embrace the culture - that's what travelling to a new country is all about. Bringing all your old baggage with you defeats the object - you might as well have stayed at home in the first place. Besides, religious beliefs are one's own business, does one have to take it to the street...or the swimming pool?

Posted by: Non-Muslim

@ Ted Nations
I couldn't agree more with your point. If a person is not willing to accept that there are other cultures in other than his/her home country, then this person should stay put home.
My very personal attitude: the moment I leave the plane and step onto new territory, I do leave all my "old baggage" on that plane.
As one wise person once said: "When you come to Rome, live like the Romans."
Anybody is free to replace "Rome" and "Romans" with any other city and people.

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