German court lifts city’s ban on burkini swimsuits
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German court lifts city’s ban on burkini swimsuits

Officials say garment could hide wounds or disease; judge says rules violate German constitution’s call for people to be treated equally

A Tunisian woman wearing a "burkini," August 16, 2016.  (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Illustrative: A Tunisian woman wearing a burkini, August 16, 2016. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

BERLIN — A German court has lifted a city’s ban on the burkini, an all-encompassing swimsuit used by some Muslim women.

Wearing the garments in municipal pools in the western city of Koblenz was forbidden at the beginning of this year after the local council narrowly approved a ban. Officials argued that the suit makes it impossible to check whether wearers have open wounds or diseases.

The rules were challenged by a Syrian asylum seeker, a pious Muslim who said doctors had recommended that she use a swimming pool to tackle pain caused by a back problem.

Rhineland-Palatinate state’s top administrative court said Friday it has issued an injunction lifting the burkini ban pending further consideration of the case. It found the rules violated the German constitution’s call for people to be treated equally.

In 2016, dozens of French municipalities banned the burkini with the backing of the French government, before a court ruled the action unconstitutional. Many Europeans believed the ban violated personal and religious freedoms, but its supporters regarded wearing the burkini and other clothing favored by Muslims as a political statement.

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