Ten Muslim women have been warned or fined for wearing burkinis – or full body swimsuits – on a French beach after three seaside towns banned the Islamic garments since the end of July following a series of Islamist terror attacks. All of the women flouting the new laws were caught by police officers in the Riviera resort of Cannes and forced to leave the beach. Four were fined the equivalent of £32, while all received “warnings” that will now technically form part of their criminal records.
“They are young mothers or grandmothers, and they do not believe they are criminals,” a local council source told the Mail Online. “All were very upset at the way they were treated.”
Cannes banned the garments at the end of July, nearby Villeneuve-Loubet flowed a few days later and Sisco on the island of Corsica joined them after five people were injured in riots after “bathers of North African origin” attacked a tourist taking a photo of a Muslim woman in a Burkini on a public beach.
The bans have come among a wave of Islamist terror attacks that have rocked France, leaving the country under a state of emergency. An Islamic State ram-raid killed 85 people in July in Nice, just meters from the beach.
The mainly conservative mayors who have imposed the bans say that the swimsuits defy French laws on secularism and Cannes won court backing when their new law was challenged.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls attacked the burkini for “not being compatible with the values of France and the Republic”. The socialist government’s minister for women’s rights, Laurence Rossignol, also defended the ban.
“The burkini is not some new line of swimwear, it is the beach version of the burqa and it has the same logic: hide women’s bodies in order to better control them,” she told French daily Le Parisien.
Italy, meanwhile, has ruled out following France in banning the garments.
Interior minister Angelino Alfano told the Corriere della Sera daily that he regarded the French bans as counter-productive because of the potential backlash it could provoke.
“The interior ministry’s responsibility is to guarantee security and to decide the severity of responses which however must never become provocations that could potentially attract attacks,” Mr. Alfano said.