The glamorous French seaside resort of Cannes has caused outrage by banning Muslim women from wearing so called ‘burkinis’ at the beach.
David Lisnard, the town Mayor, claims the all-over swimsuits threatened to provoke people because of the number of terrorist attacks being carried out by Islamic State.
But opponents said there was no link whatsoever between the garments favoured by Muslim mothers and political violence.
Instead they said Mr Lisnard, a member of the right wing Republican Party, was just 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.
‘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.’
Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services in Cannes, stirred 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 the swimwear, which is sold in Britain by stores including Marks & Spencer, has nothing to do with with terrorist 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.
This article was first published on 12th August 2016 on the Evening Standard <http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/cannes-bans-muslim-women-from-wearing-burkinis-at-the-beach-a3318216.html>