Burkini Ban: Enforcement Starts in Nice and Cannes
Armed police officers forced a Muslim woman to take off her burkini at the beach in Nice, France. In Cannes, another woman was fined for wearing a headscarf and leggings. These are some of the first known examples of enforcement of a controversial ban on certain beachwear since the ban was implemented in several French towns earlier this month.
Cannes was the first town to impose the ban, which emerged after recent terrorist attacks in France. According to the rule, you cannot visit the beaches in Cannes if you are “wearing improper clothes that are not respectful of good morals and secularism.” The prohibition is widely seen as a restriction of the freedom of religion and expression that is supposed to exist in France.
According to the Telegraph, at least four armed officers approached the burkini-wearing woman on the beach in Nice and didn’t leave until she took her burkini off.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) August 24, 2016
The woman who was fined in Nice said she was wearing a tunic with leggings and a headscarf, sitting on the beach in Cannes with her family with no intention of going swimming. Another beach visitor who witnessed the incident, Mathilde Cousin, said, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home,’ some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
The town of Villeneuve-Loubet was one of the first of some 15 French towns to follow the example set in Cannes, imposing similar beach rules. On Monday, a lower court ruled that the ban is “necessary, appropriate, and proportionate” to uphold public order after recent terrorist attacks. The ruling went on to say that the burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or [religious] non-convictions of other users of the beach” as well as “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by” the community.
The French NGO Human Rights League appealed the decision, saying the ban is a “serious and illegal attack on numerous fundamental rights,” notably freedom of religion.
The controversial ban will come before the highest administrative court in France on Thursday. Meanwhile, the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca, had another explanation for why he wanted the rule in place. He told Sky News:
I was informed that there was a couple on one of our beaches where the wife was swimming fully dressed… I considered that unacceptable for hygienic reasons and that in general it was unwelcome.
The woman he saw was swimming in the ocean, not a swimming pool. Luca did also not specify whose hygiene he was concerned about.