Armed French Police Force Woman to Strip off Burkini on Beach
Woman on Nice beach being forced to remove her burkini by armed police, Aug. 23, 2016. | Photo: AFP
Armed French police ordered a Muslim woman to remove her burkini swimsuit on a Nice beach Tuesday, adding further controversy to a ban on the garment amid growing Islamophobia in France.
Photographs show the woman removing her burkini—a full-body swim piece, while four armed police surround her on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The woman was issued a ticket by police for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to AFP.
“I was sitting on a beach with my family … I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” said the 34-year-old mother, who only gave her first name, Siam.
“Today we are not allowed on the beach. Tomorrow, the street? Tomorrow, we’ll be forbidden from practicing our religion at all?” Siam asked.
Mathilde Cousin, witnessed the incident and told the Guardian, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home,’ some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
Nice is the latest of 15 towns to ban the burkini. The mayor of nearby Villeneuve-Loubet said that the ban was important to “protect the population.”
Last week three Muslim women were fined $US43 for wearing burkinis in Cannes. On Tuesday, a mother of two reported she had been fined on the Cannes beach for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the ban, saying that “Beaches, like all public areas, must be protected from religious claims. The burkini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”
The niqab and burqa veils were banned by France in 2010. Critics say the burkini ban is steeped in Islamophobia and secular extremism. Some advocacy groups have filed legal action against the ban that “pits citizens against one another,” said Marwan Muhammad from the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
The burkini was originally designed in 2004 by Australian-Lebanese fashion designer, Aheda Zanetti, who also created the “hijood,” a head covering that can be used by Muslim women to play sports.
“This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away? So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians? They are as bad as each other,” Zanetti said to the Guardian.
Since the crackdown on burkinis, its sales have seen a dramatic increase of 200 percent, with many non-Muslims buying the swimsuit to protest its ban.