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Swedish court awards damages to Muslim women denied entry to swimming pool

AP, via the International Herald Tribune, USA
Jan. 29, 2008 • Tuesday January 29, 2008

STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Two Muslim women blocked from a Goteborg swimming pool for refusing to shed some of their clothing won more than 20,000 kronor (€2,110; US$3,110) each in damages Tuesday.

The Court of Appeal in Western Sweden, overruling an earlier lower court decision, ordered Goteborg to pay the woman damages and their legal costs for discriminating against them.

The women — dressed in headscarves, sweatpants and long-sleeved T-shirts — accompanied their children to the public pool on two separate occasions in April 2004 but were asked to leave after refusing to change their clothes.

Lifeguards told the women they were not welcome unless they got changed into something lighter because their clothing did not comply with the pool’s safety and hygiene regulations.

The court said the women had “been discriminated (against) in a way that is linked to their religion,” which prevented them from being able to comply with the demands.

It also said they had been exposed “to treatment that leads to discomfort,” and that being asked to change to lighter bathing gear could “generally be experienced as alienating.”

Gunnar Andersson, a lawyer for the city, said it was not yet clear whether Goteborg officials would appeal the ruling.

Goteborg is Sweden’s second-largest city.

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