The burkini ban is spreading across France as more seaside resorts take steps to ban the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women. At least four women have been fined for defying the new rule.
CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports.
More French towns spread ban on the burkiniThe burkini ban is spreading across France as more seaside resorts take steps to ban the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women. At least four women have been fined for defying the new rule. CCTV's Kate Parkinson reports.
French values are being tested again. This time by the burkini, which some in France see as associated with an intolerant and sectarian strand of Islam.
The burkini debate is particularly sensitive in France given the spate of recent terror attacks. And it’s no coincidence that the row started on the beaches of the French Riviera, just a few kilometres from Nice, where 85 people were killed in an Islamist militant attack last month.
The town of Cannes was the first to pass the summer burkini ban. Soon followed by Villeneuve-Loubet and Sisco in Corsica.
As the controversy spread across France more and more resorts followed suit and there are now 18 beaches where the burkini is banned.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has weighed in on the debate saying the burkini is ‘not compatible with the values of France and the Republic.’
It is not a new range of swimwear, the premier said, but rather “the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”
But critics accused France of stopping freedom of religious expression and setting a dangerous precedent.
Marwan Muhammad from Collective against Islamophobia in France says there have already been cases where religious minorities have been harassed on the public beaches.
“Over the last week there has been an number of incidents on French beaches in the south of the country where individuals reported Muslim women to the police for wearing a cap, for wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, for wearing a bathing suit,” Muhammad said. “And people think this is normal because they think they are concerned citizens who should respect secularism and should report any religious visibility to the police. And it’s shocking and it’s worrying because when we look at the history of our country we think that this is so far behind us… Yet we are doing it right now.”
The burkini debate will probably die down as the summer draws to a close – but France is a country on edge and extremely nervous about home grown religious extremism. What this controversy has revealed is a deeply conflicted state of mind in France, that will likely linger for years to come.