Norway: County to adapt swimming classes for Muslim girls

Norway: County to adapt swimming classes for Muslim girls

The education director of the Aust-Agder county in Norway decided that Muslim students will not be granted an exemption from swimming classes because they don't want to show bare skin.

Agderposten reported today about the problem after a municipality in the county asked the education director if it was possible to exempt Muslim girls from swimming lessons.

The education director can find no legal basis for an exemption, but suggests that Muslim girls should be enabled to participate under their own conditions.  The suggestions are that the students can use swimming suits that cover the body according to Muslim law, that segregated groups be set up and that Muslim students be given the possibility to shower before the other students and use a closed dressing room.

Education director Karen Junker doesn't remember getting similar requests.

Junker told the paper that an exemption can't be given for subjects in the curriculum and it is impossible to learn to swim without swimming.

Municipal council member and immigrant representative Josef Hæier stresses that swimming doesn't conflict with Islam. Hæier also points out that different cultures should not prevent children from learning to swim.

"There are different practices in different families and has to do among other things with different cultural backgrounds.  The starting point is that we should find alternatives, follow the laws and regulations, but at the same time use our heads.  10-15 years ago some girls wanted to swim with long pants and they were allowed to.  I don't think different bathing suits and their own wardrobe will be a problem in relation to bullying. The problem is if the children can't swim at all," says Hæier.

Source: Agderposten (Norwegian)

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