Swiss Muslim parents have faced fines after refusing to send their daughters to mixed swimming lessons.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently upheld the Swiss Court’s decision to fine parents. The ECHR said that the Swiss Court had a right to do this. This is as they have a ‘legitimate aim’ to protect ‘foreign’ students from social exclusion.
The parents fined, are both of dual, Turkish-Swiss nationality. They appealed to the European court in efforts of challenging the decision. The parents were fined in 2010 by the Swiss education authorities.
They had refused to send two of their daughters to mixed swimming lessons. The fine was delivered as they failed to follow school rules. The fine can be delivered by the school to parents of pre-pubescent children.
Swiss children are required to take part in swimming lessons up until the age of puberty. This is part of schools’ education curriculum.
The parents believe that their right to religious freedom of thought, conscience and religion had been violated. This violation goes against article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The decision is viewed as unfair to many Muslims. It is believed that religious beliefs have not been respected. Instead, the ruling encourages parents to give up their right to religious freedom and change their beliefs. If beliefs are not changed they will be fined.
It is important that these ‘foreign’ students do take part in activities. Perhaps other activities and extra-curricular activities that encourage integration could be offered.
Many believe that parents should not have to give up their right to instil preferred values and beliefs within their children. A sense of equality has been abandoned here.
However, Swiss laws do allow parents to pull their children out of classes once they have reached puberty. Parents do however wish to protect their children and values before this stage of a child’s life.
The court’s decision has caused many to consider whether this ruling is ethical.