Sweden: Veiled women win appeal against swimming pool

Two Muslim mothers have won a court appeal against a municipal pool in Gothenburg that required them to take off their veils and body-covering clothing.

The Court of Appeal for western Sweden found the City of Gothenburg guilty of ethnic discrimination and ordered the authorities to pay the women 20,000 kronor ($3,000) each in damages.

The women, Houda Morabet and Hayal Eroglu, were at the pool separately on two different occasions in April 2004, accompanying their young children but not to swim themselves.

Both were wearing veils, long pants and long-sleeved tee-shirts because their religion does not allow them to reveal parts of their body in public.

In its judgment, the court said that the actions of the swimming pool lifeguards, who insisted that the women should change into tee-shirts, could be deemed discriminatory even if this had not been their intention.

The nature of Sweden's discrimination laws mean that it was up to the City of Gothenburg to prove that the request for the women to remove some of their clothing had nothing to do with their religion.

"In the view of the Court of Appeal, the City of Gothenburg did not succeed in doing this," the court said in a statement.

In March last year, Gothenburg District Court ruled that the municipal pool had not discriminated against the women.

It ordered the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination, which had brought the case on their behalf, to pay the City of Gothenburg's costs of 30,850 kronor ($4,720 dollars).

The lifeguards testified that although there was nothing in the security regulations about veils, the rules did require people in the pool area to wear shorts and tee-shirts, even if they don't plan to swim.

The mothers' cumbersome clothing would have prevented them from coming to the rescue of their children if necessary, they argued.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: Veiled women lose case against swimming pool


Anonymous said...

We are a democratic and secular society. There should be no exception to the rule of law. If muslims want to wear hoods and masks and conceal their identity then they should go to a country that allows people to walk around in masks.

Anonymous said...

A Secular Society vs Religious Freedom. Where does one end and the other start? Or do they co-exist? Perhaps those who deny others the freedom to express their religions should go back to a country that allows no freedoms.

Anonymous said...

What is religious freedom? How is it different from a free society? Does it mean that because a pertson believes in an imaginary being they can claim privileges not entitled to everyone else. Rastafarians believe smoking hash is part of their religious freedom. Anyone can invent a religion (all religions are invented) and claim special privileges.
As long as you are treated with human respect and equally with all other members of society tht is all people should ask.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps smoking a little pot would expand your belief system and make you a little more tolerant.

Anonymous said...

Smoking pot kills the brain cells and makes you think everyone else is wrong and you are right. Can lead to psychosis.

Anonymous said...

I take it you are speaking from experience. LOL!

Anonymous said...

No. I drew my conclusions from reading your post.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should expand your resources, you may become better informed. I tend to believe rules are a guideline. There will always be exceptions to a rule. The court of Sweden found there was racial discrimination against the veiled women at the swimming pool. I sure would enjoy to read the transcript of that case as I don't understand where the racial discrimination entered into it. Perhaps they were the only two people who were told they had to wear t-shirts and shorts, while others broke the rule and wore what they wanted. I don't know, but if that was the case then I can see why the two women won the case. Regarding our argument of religious freedoms, I'm wondering how you feel about Mennonites and Amish people who believe in the old ways and drive their horse and buggies on the highways. Would you send these people back to the country they left for a country that would allow them their freedom or religion? Also, as a fun question, I wonder what your take is on the spirit of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, four leaf clovers, etc..?

Anonymous said...

Laws are made in democratic countries to apply to all. They should be enforced regardless of class, religion or race. If you break the law then you should pay the penalty. There is leeway within the law. A judge has the authority to impose the minimum sentence if he believes the offender so deserves it. Or the maximum sentence if he things the offender is a reprobate. The jury could also enter a plea for clemency.

There should not be two separate systems of law applying in the same country as Rowan williams has suggested. If people settle a dispute amongst themselves that is all well and good. But the settlement should not be legally binding. It is a private agreement and that is all it is.
One group of people should not be treated differently from another.
This happened in the past when different laws applied to the nobility to those that applied to the common man.
Today different laws apply on religious grounds. This is no different. Laws are made for everybody. Not just one group of people.
Why should a muslim receive state benefits for four wives when having more that one wife is a criminal offenmce? Why should the cutting of an animals throat and allowing it be bled to death be legal for muslims and jews but no one else?
Why? Because the law is an ass when it does not dispense justice.
If it is legal for Amish people to drive their horse and buggies on highwaya then it should be permissible for everyone to do so.

With regard to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and tooth fairies I have to repeat:
Smoking pot kills the brain cells and makes you think everyone else is wrong and you are right. Can lead to psychosis

Anonymous said...

Be careful of your assumptions, I never said I that I use pot, I merely suggested it might allow you to have more tolerance for religious beliefs. Your accusation that I think I'm right while everyone else is wrong, seems to be an on going theme with you. I truly did not know there was a law against muslims who 'want to wear hoods and masks and conceal their idenity'. Batman does it all the time and he hasn't been bannished yet as far as I know. He's still treated with human respect and equality. Anyway, I'm sure there is something in your argument of rules and laws that I agree with, but you sound a little too rigid in my opinion and I'm happy you are not the only judge and jury in the land. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

You said "Perhaps smoking a little pot would expand your belief system and make you a little more tolerant."
By advising someone to smoke pot I assume you smoke it yourself. Or are you in the habit of advising people to take poisonous substances that you would not touch yourself?
You then use as part of your argument Santa Claus, the easter bunny and now a comic hero called Batman. Sounds to me as if you are in fantasy land.
I would say 'Cheers' also but that word is associated with alcohol. So I'll just say
"Don't bogart that joint my friend"