Volume 2 Issue 7

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France's attempt to " Secularise and Secure" the sports

Date of News: 


Date of Publication: 


Unique ID:


Name of the Author: 

Nandini Varshney

Field of Law: 

International Law

Content of News:

The French Senate voted 160-143 Tuesday in favour of a bill amending its national Sports Code to prohibit athletes from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs and burkinis at sports competitions, public swimming pools, and bathing areas, in the latest move in a contentious decade-long effort to limit public expression of religion. Over 80 Senators from the center-right opposition party Les R�publicains presented the measure on December 8, 2021. It forbids participants in sporting activities organised by "federations and related associations" from wearing "conspicuous religious insignia," and specifies that guidelines for using public swimming pools or artificial bathing areas must respect the unbiases and secularism of public services. According to the bill's justifications, there is a clash between the "peaceful and impartial" practise of sport on the one hand, and the misuse of the French Republic's secular ideals and "Islamic radicalization" on the other. It argues that freedom of religion must be supported by impartiality, implying that athletes must not promote individual distinctions or affiliations. According to the report, a rule enacted in 2021 to increase control of sports groups in order to combat radicalization has not been implemented, resulting in "incidents" of non-neutrality in sport. The statement cites a protest in 2019 against a fee levied by the mayor of Grenoble for wearing burkinis at a public pool. This nonviolent protest, in which Muslim women donned burkinis in defiance, is described in the bill as a "provocative militant action" protecting an unrecognisable ideal of women. It goes on to state that while municipal governments like Grenoble have the power to regulate on health and safety issues, such as banning religious signs that "cause a safety concern," they turn to the Senate to take a decision on secularism.