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Should Muslim girls swim? Schools try to smooth waves in Muslim swimming controversy

How do schools cope with Muslim families who want to prevent their daughters from attending swimming lessons? Swiss public television, SRF, talked to school principals and an imam about the controversy. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a decision by Swiss authorities to fine Muslim parents who had kept their girls from mandatory swimming lessons during school hours.

In 2010, Basel City authorities fined the couple CHF1,400 ($1,382) for pulling their nine- and seven-year-old daughters from swim class. The family had argued that it was against their religious convictions to send their girls to co-ed swimming lessons on account of the required attire. 

This was not the first time that a Muslim family had a problem with the swimming lessons that are a standard part of the Swiss curriculum. SRF talked to two school principals to see how they had dealt with the issue, as well as an imam to get his thoughts on whether donning a typical swimming costume was appropriate.