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Family loses appeal over swimming lesson fine

A court says that fines imposed on Muslim parents in canton Basel-City for keeping their children out of mandatory school swimming lessons were correct.

This content was published on August 12, 2011 - 15:50
swissinfo.ch and agencies

A cantonal administrative court on Friday threw out the appeal of a Muslim couple against their fine, ruling that it was not in breach of freedom of religion and conscience.

The parents were fined SFr1,400 ($1,816) last year – in the first move of its kind - after they withdrew their daughters aged seven and nine from the school swimming lessons.

The court said it had based its ruling on the latest decision by the federal court. Compulsory schooling meant that all parents were obliged to send their children to school and that children had the right to adequate schooling, the Basel-City court said in a statement. This included sport and swimming lessons which before puberty are mixed in the canton.

The court added that it was greatly “in the public interest that all children, including little girls of the Muslim faith, should go to school swimming lessons”. This was not only so that they should learn to swim but also because such lessons encouraged socialisation and integration, it continued.

Cantonal education officials had previously argued that it was important for schools to avoid creating parallel societies. There are a total of 1,033 Muslim boys and girls registered in the canton’s primary schools.

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