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Debate over burkini swimsuit in Czech water parks flares up

ČTK |
12 July 2017

Prague, July 11 (CTK) - A dispute over whether to ban burkini, a swimsuit mainly worn by Muslim women, which covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet, has flared up in the Czech Republic where the critics use their fear of Islam but also the hygienic aspect as an argument, Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday.

Unlike the Czech critics, the opponents of burkini in France, for example, base their opposition on the religious issue, the daily writes.

Last weekend, social networks have been flooded by photographs of women who wore burkini while swimming in Aquapalace, a large water park in Cestlice near Prague.

In a following debate, many people supported Aquapalace operator's toleration of the burkini, but still the water park received a number of sharp complaints, the paper writes.

The operator says hygiene is a priority for him and the swimming in any clothes designed for wearing outdoors is banned in Aquapalace.

"Nevertheless, the novelties of the past years, such as swim T-shirts and burkini, are a special issue. They are made of material that is suitable for bathing," Aquapalace announced, adding that the clients in burkini did not violate the visitor rules.

Aquacentrum Sutka, another complex elsewhere in Prague, tolerates burkini as well, as does the swimming pool in Teplice, north Bohemia, maybe because both Prague and Teplice, a spa town, have had experience with the Muslim clientele for years, the paper writes.

The two water parks' representatives say they let in people only if they wear clothes made of "swim material."

"On entry, we check the material for not being cotton, for example," Lenka Butova, from the Teplice water park, told LN.

She said the clients must also prove that besides a swimsuit, they also have a soap and a towel.

However, such situations are quite rare. To prevent them, fathers with children prevail among the Muslim visitors. Women turn up quite rarely, Butova said.

She said the water park has not registered any complaint in this connection, compared with two complaints received by the Prague-Sutka complex.

The operators of the country's other water parks are of a different view.

"If someone wanted to swim in burkini...she would have to prove that it is a swimsuit," Dalibor Prikryl, from the Aquapark Olomouc, north Moravia, told LN.

"The bathing in clothes is banned for hygienic reasons," said Martin Malek, from the Jihlava, south Moravia, municipality that operates a local water park.

Other parks' representatives say their visitor rules only accept swimsuits made of flexible and clingy material without any metal elements.

"Nobody has had a swim [in burkini] here, it is banned. We would be opposed to it," Stanislav Bydzovsky, head of the water park in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, is quoted as saying.

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