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‘Burkini’ War Waged in French Riviera | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Woman in a burkini on the beach. Reuters

Paris-In addition to the Olympic Games that are underway in Rio de Janeiro, it seems that the subject that is keeping French media busy today is surrealist given the crises that are shaking France.

However, this subject reflects the collective “hysteria” hitting the French society in all matters pertaining to Islam.

Recently, French media included “Burkini” to its dictionary. The compound word is of bikini, which is Western swimming suit, and burqa that is worn by Muslim women in some Islamic countries.

Burkini fashion has spread fast in the West. Notably, it is a type of swimsuit for women. The design is intended to comply with the Quranic admonition for Muslim women to dress modestly. The suit covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet, whilst being light enough to enable swimming.

Cannes Mayor David Lisnard issued a decree banning beachwear that fails to respect “good morals and secularism” and poses a hygiene and public order risk.

“Swimwear displaying religious affiliation in an ostentatious way, while France and its religious sites are currently the target of terrorist attacks, could create risks of trouble to public order,” it said.

The town hall confirmed that the ordinance, which applies for the whole month of August, means women wearing burkini-style swimsuits face €38 (£32) fines if they refuse to change swimsuit or leave the beach.

On Monday, Mayor of Pennes-Mirabeau, a small town north of Marseille, decided to ban a swim-day for women at a local park on September, citing a risk to public order because swimmers will be required to cover up from chest to knee.

Muslim and human rights groups slammed the move on Friday as absurd and illegal.

Yet, Florian Philippot, senior advisor to far-Right Front leader Marine Le Pen, has said: “This sort of event should be banned.”

“Accepting this so-called fashion means we accept sectarianism in our country,” said Valérie Boyer, from Nicolas Sarkozy’s Les Républicains and mayor of two Marseille districts.

Smile 13, the association which organized the event, said in a Facebook post it had received insults and death threats.

The local authority and the waterpark decided to call off the event, saying in a statement they did not “wish to be the site of public unrest.”