The federal government is launching an inquiry into chlorine allergy certificates, suggesting households have ‘conveniently’ used them to forestall ladies from swimming.

Paris, France – Rights teams have criticised France’s choice to crack down on allergy certificates used to exempt college students from swimming pool classes, saying the transfer was an “Islamophobic” gesture.

France’s training and inside ministries on Thursday introduced they’d launch an inquiry into “chlorine allergy” certificates to assemble data on the observe, after officers advised that the paperwork have been ostensibly faux and being utilized by “spiritual” dad and mom to cease their daughters from swimming.

Whereas authorities statements concerning the investigation haven’t explicitly referenced the phrases “Muslim” or “Islam”, critics say that the measures are squarely aimed toward France’s 5.7 million-strong Muslim neighborhood.

Asserting the inquiry, the Ministry of the Inside mentioned in a press release on Thursday that it was “decided” to strengthen the “values of the Republic”, particularly as a brand new invoice in opposition to what French President Emmanuel Macron has termed “Islamist separatism” was being debated.

“Faculty shouldn’t be a breeding floor for ‘spiritual separatism’ when an act or an indication leads to a refusal of exercise, a selected demand, a problem to instructing within the title of spiritual convictions,” the assertion mentioned.

“In recent times, there was a rise within the issuance of certificates by well being professionals prescribing a contraindication to swimming classes for younger ladies. These so-called ‘chlorine allergy’ certificates of comfort can’t be tolerated in colleges within the Republic so long as they don’t seem to be primarily based on medical causes.”

Marlene Schiappa, citizenship minister, and Jean-Michel Blanquer, training minister, are main the inquiry, the outcomes of which might be made public.

Schiappa tweeted on Thursday: “[Schools] should battle in opposition to separatist ideologies which primarily goal little ladies.”

On the time of publishing, the Ministry of the Inside had not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for remark.

“France has 99 issues,” tweeted Rim-Sarah Alouane, a French spiritual freedom, civil liberties and human rights researcher. “However the precedence of the French authorities is to go after Muslim feminine college students allegedly attempting to skip swimming lessons.”

Sefen Guez Guez, a lawyer for the Collective In opposition to Islamophobia in France (CCIF) civil rights group, instructed Al Jazeera: “We aren’t naive; it’s clearly concentrating on Muslims.

“It’s an agenda. They’re attempting to determine how Muslims should stay their faith – this isn’t respecting laicite [France’s form of secularism].”

Guez Guez expressed disbelief that the efforts are being made throughout the coronavirus pandemic, when swimming swimming pools throughout France are closed.

“I feel it’s unbelievable,” he mentioned. “How is that this a precedence? And are they going to begin policing allergy certificates?

“It’s a part of a wider effort to stigmatise Muslims. It’s not a significant issue. However the authorities needs to fill the information and media with a brand new drawback each week.”

Heated debate

The subject of ladies avoiding swimming pool classes in school or highschool has been raised recurrently throughout debates over France’s controversial “separatism” legislation, which is presently being mentioned by politicians within the Nationwide Meeting.

The federal government says the draft invoice is designed to strengthen French secularism, however rights teams have condemned the proposed legislation whereas consultants have mentioned secularism is already protected by the nation’s authorized framework.

The invoice consists of tighter controls on homeschooling, limits on donations to non secular teams from overseas, and a requirement for all associations in France receiving public funding to signal a contract pledging to respect Republican values.

Schiappa raised the topic of swimming throughout a listening to on January 11, saying an “exponential price of schoolchildren allergic to chlorine” was all the way down to “certificates of comfort to flee swimming pool periods”, as she blamed households for performing on “spiritual issues”.