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Uproar over Burqini ban at French resort

Updated August 13, 2016

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MARSEILLE: Nissrine Samali, a Muslim woman, gets into the sea wearing Burqini.— AFP
MARSEILLE: Nissrine Samali, a Muslim woman, gets into the sea wearing Burqini.— AFP

PARIS: Anti-racism organisations and human rights groups vowed on Friday to overturn a “deeply worrying” ban on the wearing of Burqinis — full-body swimsuits — on the beaches of Cannes, the French Riviera resort famous for its annual film festival.

Cannes’ mayor David Lisnard signed off on the ruling that “access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have (bathing apparel) which respects good customs and secularism,” which is a founding principle of the French republic.

SOS Racisme attacked what it said was the mayor’s “strategy of tension”.

An umbrella organisation of groups against Islamophobia, the CCIF, said it was “deeply worried” about the ban, which it viewed as “a new attack on the most basic principles of law”. It said it was planning to oppose the ban in the courts.

The ban also came under fire from the Socialist Party, who are in opposition to the centre-right Republicans who control Cannes. The local Socialist branch said the Burqini ban was an attempt at grabbing headlines which would “play into the hands of religious fundamentalists”.

Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services in Cannes, sought to clarify the intent of the Burqini ban, which is in place until August 31.

“We are not talking about banning the wearing of religious symbols on the beach... but ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us,” he said.

The issue comes at a highly sensitive time for relations with Muslims in France after two attacks last month linked to the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2016