Hearing a case submitted by a Turkish-Swiss couple, who argued the classes violated their beliefs, Europe’s rights top court passed the verdict that Muslim parents cannot refuse to send their daughters to mixed school-run swimming lessons.
The court ruled that the authorities’ refusal in the Swiss city of Basel to exempt the couple’s two daughters from swimming lessons was justified, by the need to promote the children’s social integration.
In June last year, a Muslim father was fined 4,000 Swiss francs ($4,000, 3,700 euros) in Switzerland, after he refused to allow his daughters to take swimming lessons at school. He had also refused to send his daughters to camps and other school events, insisting that they counteredhis religious beliefs.
The prosecutor had requested that the man be sentenced to four months behind bars, in addition to a fine, maintaining that the Bosnian national who has been living in Switzerland since 1990 had resisted integration and had no respect for Swiss legislation.
In July, Swiss authorities rejected the naturalisation application of two Muslim girls who refused to take part in the school’s swimming lessons with boys. According to Swiss media, the girls aged 12 and 14, living in the Swiss city of Basel, had applied for Swiss citizenship several months ago, but their request was denied.
The girls cited religious reasons for not participating in the compulsory swimming lessons at their school with males in the pool at the same time.