The inauguration of the Schaerbeek municipal swimming pool, the Neptunium, sparked a famous protest earlier this week because the use of burkinis is authorized there. This decision raises several questions, whether regarding hygiene or neutrality in municipal establishments.
This Tuesday morning, the former president of Défi Olivier Maingain denounced that in Poseidon, the municipal swimming pool of Woluwe Saint-Lambert (of which he is mayor), “the use of clothing harmful to personal hygiene, such as called The burkini or even Bermuda shorts or shorts, will continue to be strictly prohibited.”
Contacted by us, Olivier Maingain points out that it is above all a question of hygiene that must be guaranteed. “I do not approve of this decision by Schaerbeek for obvious hygiene reasons. Before entering the water, you must remove your clothing and wash your body. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to let dirty people into the water.”
Mayor DéFi then analyzes the question of neutrality that must be respected in public places. “The problematic thing is the lack of political will in the federal government and other levels of power. We must enact clear rules to keep the rise of religious obscurantism under control. There is a real offensive by these groups that thrive thanks to the absence of rules that enforce this neutrality. It’s time to have the courage to say no! We respect the philosophical and religious conditions of each one, but there are places in common life, such as school or a public swimming pool, where we respect the authority of the State, which is independent and superior to any influence of religious obscurantist groups.
As for Neptunium, local authorities justified their choice by the desire “not to prevent anyone from practicing sports.” For Olivier Maingain, this choice is contrary to the common rule. “This is a false argument, he believes, because the vast majority of people who practice a religion will adapt to the current rules to practice their sport. Responding to religious imperatives means allowing religious obscurantism to enter where it has no place.”
Is Olivier Maingain not afraid of harming his own party, since Défi belongs to the majority of Schaerbeek? Cécile Jodogne, the acting mayor, is also an amaranth. “The sports councilor is not part of DéFi,” responds Maingain. “This is the difficulty, because Ecolo has become the replacement for religious obscurantist forces. Which goes against the grain of the history of this party, “that he was attached to the principles of secularism. Ecolo betrayed his principles,” accuses the mayor of Woluwe Saint-Lambert.
He then explains the fight that must be waged to impose neutrality in public places. “We must confront parties like Ecolo and the PTB, which have given in to religious obscurantism. To combat this, I advocate for a common standard, shared by all the management of Brussels swimming pools, which will reinforce neutrality in common areas. We must make up for this legal absence, whether at the level of the federal State or the Region.”
Olivier Maingain also invites the Minister of Sports of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation “to propose a decree to start the debate. “It would be interesting to set the conditions of access to municipal swimming pools, it is his responsibility, for him to take the initiative.”