Mixed-Gender Swimming Worries Swiss Muslims

A recent Swiss ruling against exempting Muslim students from compulsory, mixed-gender swimming classes has sparked debate over respect of the religious belief of minorities.

On October 24, a Swiss court turned down a request by a Muslim father to exempt his two sons from taking part in mixed swimming classes. The ruling stated that equality between the sexes and the success of integration should be given a priority over religious considerations. Chakib Benmakhloud, head of the Federation of Islamic Organizations, condemned the ruling saying that Muslim students in Europe should be allowed the right to take swimming classes in accordance to their religious beliefs, and that some Western countries violate such principles of religious freedom through courts and laws.

Sheikh Ounis Guergah who heads the fatwa section of the Union of French Islamic Organizations said that people ought to strike a balance; parents must teach their children modesty and dress Islamically, but if this might lead to expulsion from school, it would be in the best interest of students to attend integrated swimming classes.

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