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“The children’s interest in a full education, thus facilitating their successful social integration according to local customs and mores, prevailed over the parents’ wish to have their children exempted from mixed swimming lessons.” Judges found that the classes were important for child development and health and should not be governed by parents’ religious convictions, adding that the claimants had refused offers by local authorities for their daughters to wear “burkinis” for the lessons and ensure they changed with no boys present.
The ECHR ruled that countries had the right to govern the significance given to religion in national society, particularly regarding education, and found that the fine imposed by Swiss authorities was proportionate.
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Swiss, Swedish, Spanish, Serbian and Slovakian judges were among the panel who delivered Tuesday’s ruling, which found that although freedom of religion had been “interfered with”, the move was legitimate as it was “seeking to protect foreign pupils from any form of social exclusion”.
“The Court observed that school played a special role in the process of social integration, and one that was all the more decisive where pupils of foreign origin were concerned,” a statement said.
The Chamber judgement is not final and may be referred to the ECHR’s Grand Chamber by any party’s request over the next three months.
Germany's highest court made a similar ruling in December, rejecting an appeal by parents who argued that their 11-year-old daughter should be excused from swimming classes.
“I learned not to trust anybody because that is how rumors are started,” Iqbal said. I know I can trust him more than anyone.” Other teens struggle to advise friends tangled up in this same way between faith and love.
“People I thought were close to me made up things and it got around. I realized that not everybody can be nice and I had to accept what was happening.” Iqbal considers herself “more aware” in her current relationship, which her parents know about. High school junior, Adnan Shoukfeh, 16, of the International Academy in Oakland County, Mich., said some of his male friends are in casual romantic relationships.
The couple then lodged their case with the ECHR, alleging that the requirement to send their daughters to mixed swimming lessons violated Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ECHR unanimously threw out their complaint, finding there had been no violation of freedom of religion, and that Switzerland’s right to facilitate “successful social integration according to local customs and mores” took precedence over parents’ wish to refuse.
Her mother was more worried that the photos did not reflect well on the family.