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London’s Khan Speaks on Burkini Ban, Hidalgo Denounces Raging Political Hysteria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Anne Hidalgo and Sadiq Khan at St. Pancras station in London, Photo: Justin Tallis, AFP, Getty Images

London-As all awaits the French government’s decision on the ‘burkini ban’ Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, has condemned the highly controversial ban in parts of France. At least 26 French cities have effectively banned the swimming garb.

Speaking at a press conference with Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo, he insisted that women should not be told what they can and can’t wear.

“I’m quite firm on this. I don’t think anyone should tell women what they can and can’t wear. Full stop it’s as simple as that,” Khan told the Evening Standard.

France’s Council of State, the highest judiciary authority in the country, announced that its decision will be made on Friday, especially as the story of a Muslim woman being interrogated with for wearing a headscarf to the beach was circulated.

France’s highest court began hearing arguments on Thursday from the Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group, which are seeking to reverse a decision by the southern town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, to ban the full-body swimsuits.

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls supported the ban in the name of security, however, pointed out his strong standing against discrimination.

Valls says that the French government is not at war against Islam, stressing that the country is very tolerant and will protect Muslims against discrimination.

French President Francois Hollande expressed a similar view.

Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said she opposed burkinis but dismissed the argument of Valls that the ban was a useful tool in France’s fight against militants.

“There is no link between the terror attacks of ISIS and the dress of a woman on the beach,” Vallaud-Belkacem told Europe 1 radio.

Mayor Hidalgo criticized the political and media hysteria spurred by the burkini, saying that there are things of higher priority to grab France’s attention.

For its part, The Washington Post wrote on the ban contradicting all secular and principals of freedom adopted by Europe’s “enlightened” country.

Moreover, social media exploded with tweets and published pieces denouncing the ban on the full-body swimming suit. A twitter campaign, inspired from Khan’s viewpoint, going by (#WearWhatYouWant) has been trending since.