Muslims in Vantaa to be given swimming lessons behind closed curtains

Helsingin Sanomat 3 January 2012

The Martinlaakso swimming pool in Vantaa will begin swimming lessons for Muslims next spring. For this purpose, the hall’s windows have been covered with curtains. The swimming classes have been organised by swimming clubs and by the Muslims’ own organisations.

The underlying factor behind the swimming schools is the fact that in Vantaa many Muslim pupils have not wanted to attend swimming lessons in schools because of their religion. Moreover, the parents of Islamic children have forbidden their children from attending swimming classes arranged at school.

According to Veli-Matti Kallislahti, Sports Director of the City of Vantaa, swimming skills are part and parcel of the Finnish national culture, and learning how to swim will help immigrants integrate into Finland, quite apart from possibly saving their lives.

”I could imagine that the Muslim girls now attending swimming classes behind the curtains and learning how to swim could in 15 years from now perhaps be taking their own children to regular swimming classes in schools”, Kallislahti notes on the integration aspect of the project. (...)