Ever heard of the burquini, a swimming outfit consisting of head scarf, tunic and trousers designed for Muslim women? The western Finnish city of Vaasa plans to prohibit the use of these swimming suits at a city committee* meeting next Wednesday. The reason? Because it is a security risk and not hygienic, according to a City of Vaasa official contacted by Migrant Tales.
The use of burquinis in Finland is generally prohibited at public swimming pools, according to Suomen Uimaopetus- ja Hengenpelastusliitto (SUH), the Finnish swimming instruction and lifesaver’s association.
The SUH is drawing up guidelines that aims at prohibiting the use of burquinis at all public swimming pools in Finland.
France and England can be cited as two examples of how public swimming pools have treated the issue.
Two Muslim women wearing burquinis in France, which outlaws the use of the Muslim veil together with Belgium, were asked to either change into conventional bikinis or one-piece suits or leave the swimming pool.
Contrarily in England, a London Croydon council dropped the guidelines from its website that prohibited the use of burquinis for all swimmers after it sparked a backlash of protests from non-Muslims.
One of the matters one senses when speaking to the representative of the City of Vaasa and SUH, is that there has been little to no contact with the Muslim community concerning the issue.
The City of Vaasa official asked why Muslim women should be given special liberties if men cannot wear shorts at swimming pools.
The SUH representative said that it had got in touch with the Somali association of Finland and a Somali city councillor but none of them had commented on the matter.
While safety and hygiene are important when using a public swimming pool, it’s odd that both representatives have not even bothered to explore how the issue was solved by the Croydon council, which must have addressed the same issues (safety and hygiene) that the City of Vaasa and SUH are arguing to prohibit the use of the burquini.
The question that the whole issue surrounding the use of the burquini in Finland is whether those that want to prohibit it are honestly interested in finding a compromise and a solution. That is why the arguments used to prohibit the use of the burquini are red herrings disguising a wider issue: our rejection of other cultures.
If I had to give both the City of Vaasa and SUH a grade on two-way integration, that grade would be a D- (needs improvement)!
*The City of Vaasa leisure committee comprises of nine members of the following parties: National Coalition Party (2), Social Democratic Party (2), Swedish People’s Party (2), Perussuomalaiset (1), Center Party (1) and Christian Democrats (1).