STRASBOURG, Jan.11 (Xinhua) -- The Swiss authorities didn't violate the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the refusal to exempt two Muslim girls from mixed swimming lessons, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday.
The children's obligation to follow the full school curriculum took precedence over their parents' demand for their exemption on religious grounds, the Strasbourg-based international court ECHR said, adding that "the domestic authorities had not exceeded the considerable margin of appreciation afforded to them in the present case, which concerned compulsory education."
Emphasizing "the special role" the school played "in the process of social integration," the court said attending sport lessons "was not just to learn to swim and to take physical exercise, but above all to take part in that activity with all the other pupils, with no exception on account of the child's origin or the parents' religious or philosophical convictions."
The court also pointed out the authorities' arrangements to allow the girls to wear burkinis, full-body swimwear, and to get changed with no boys present out of consideration for the parents' religious convictions.
In July 2010, Switzerland's education authorities fined two Muslim girls' parents 1,400 Swiss francs (1,380 U.S. dollars) for rejecting to send their daughters to mixed swimming lessons.
In April 2012, the couple lodged an appeal to the ECHR.