SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- Though praised by sports officials for integrating the religious minority, a new swimming course planned next January for Muslim women has been viciously attacked by the far-right politicians as “discriminatory”.
The Geas sports association in Sesto, praised the initiative as “an important moment for integration,” The Local.it reported on Wednesday, October 15, quoting Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Offering Muslim women a rare opportunity to learn swimming, the Islamic center in Sesto, northern Italy, announced the new swimming course next year.
Planned from January 19th to April 20th, the sports center in Sesto will be open to both Muslim and non-Muslim women.
While the burkini is not obligatory, Muslim women are requested to wear wet suits with sleeves and knee-length shorts as well as a swimming cap.
The instructors will all be female.
Despite of the praise from Geas sports association, organizers of the course were the target of attacks from the right-wing Brothers of Italy – National Alliance party.
The party’s officials accused organizers of promoting outdated traditions from other countries which were abandoned in Italy in the 1960s and 70s, such as separate bathing areas for men and women.
“It’s a classic example of reverse discrimination,” Viviana Beccalossi, Urban and Regional Councilor for Lombardy and head of the
“If discrimination is the result of respect for the observance of Islamic rules then anything goes. Otherwise we are accused of racism. After asking us to remove crucifixes from public places, to remove the nativity scene from schools and after cases occurring in many hospitals with some women refusing to be examined by male doctors, now it’s the swimming pool. Who knows what will happen next.”
Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.7 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to the figures released by Istat, the national statistics agency.
This is not the first time in which proposals to integrate Muslims have been criticized by far-right parties.
Last May, members of the far-right, neo-nazi Italian party “Forza Nuova” marched in Venice to protest an earlier decision specifying time for Muslim women at swimming pool to integrate the religion minority.
Moreover, Italy’s first Muslim councilor has been forced to flee the country after receiving a series of death threats, citing fear for her children’s lives.
Last year, Forza Nuova supporters protested public appearances by Cecile Kyenge, then integration minister, by hanging nooses up around a town and leaving bloodied mannequins in another.