Burkinis banned on French Riviera following water park debacle

Published August 13th, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
This file photo taken on January 12, 2007 shows Australian model Mecca Laalaa wearing an Islamic swimsuit (or burkini) by Muslim fashion designer Aheda Zanetti at the Islamic Sport & Swimwear shop in Sydney. (AFP/Anoek de Groot)
This file photo taken on January 12, 2007 shows Australian model Mecca Laalaa wearing an Islamic swimsuit (or burkini) by Muslim fashion designer Aheda Zanetti at the Islamic Sport & Swimwear shop in Sydney. (AFP/Anoek de Groot)

The banning of 'burkinis' from Cannes beaches is a 'gift for ISIS (Daesh) recruiters' and is illegal, claim critics. 

The glamorous French seaside resort has caused outrage by banning Muslim women from wearing the beach wear.  

David Lisnard, the town mayor, claims the all-over swimsuits worn by some Muslim women, threatened to provoke people because of the number of terrorist attacks being carried out by Daesh. He also claimed the garments were unhygienic.

But opponents said there was no link whatsoever between the garments favored by Muslim mothers and political violence.

Hervé Lavisse, president of the local section of the Human Rights League, told the newspaper Nice Matin, the move was illegal and absurd.

"This is abuse of the law and we reserve the right to take this to the courts. What next? Morality police like in the land of the Mullahs."

Critics say Mr. Lisnard, a member of the right wing Republican Party, is trying to stir up Islamophobia.

His new official ruling reads that "access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have bathing apparel that respects good customs and secularism."

It added: "Beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order (crowds, scuffles etc) which it is necessary to prevent."

A City Hall official said violators risk a $42 fine if they are caught wearing the garments. 

Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services in Cannes, appeared to stir up the debate by saying the town wanted to ban "ostentatious clothing that shows an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us."

In fact he said the swimwear, which is sold in Britain by stores including Marks & Spencer, has nothing to do with with extremist groups.

Feiza Ben Mohamed, secretary general of the Federation of Muslims of the South of France, said the ban showed Cannes Council 'was not worried about the climate of Islamophobia' in the country.

She said rich Saudi Arabian princesses would not be sanctioned, and instead police would humiliate "a veiled mother who simply wants to take her children to cool off at the beach."

Ms. Ben Mohamed also asked why "religious symbols" including the Jewish Kippa and the headdresses of Christian nuns were not being banned.

Last month a man linked to Daesh killed 85 people using a lorry in Nice, which is 20 miles along the French Riviera from Cannes.

Thirty of his victims were Muslims, and the first to die was a grandmother of seven who regularly wore a veil.

Now some politicians and social commentators argue that modesty in public places goes against the secular values of France.

Stephane Ravier, of the far-right National Front, said earlier this month that "a certain number of Muslims are deciding among themselves to break away from our Republican model and put themselves outside our society."

Mr. Ravier was responding to a waterpark in nearby Marseille cancelling plans for a "burkini party" in September.

France also has a law, which came into force in 2011, that means women who wear full-face veils in public can be fined around $167.

There have been arrests and convictions in France, but attempts to enforce the ban have also sparked disturbances, including a riot in the Paris suburb of Trappes.

France has the biggest Muslim population in western Europe, and many believe that society has an agenda against them. 

 

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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