The French resort of Cannes has banned full-body, head-covering swimsuits worn by some Muslim women from its beaches, citing security concerns.
The ban on so-called burkinis, at the height of the French Riviera holiday season, comes as the country remains on edge after deadly Islamic extremist attacks on nearby Nice and on a Catholic church in northwest France.
Cannes Mayor David Lisnard issued an ordinance forbidding beachwear that does not respect “good morals and secularism,” noting that swimwear “manifesting 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.”
Cannes’ head of municipal services said: “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.”
The order banning burkinis from the beach was issued on July 28, and no burkinis had been seen in public since then, he added.
A City Hall official said the ordinance, in effect for August, could apply to burkini-style swimsuits. Violators risk a 38 euro fine.
The ban comes a week after a controversial “burkini party” at an indoor swimming pool in Marseille was cancelled when the organisers were sent bullets in the post.
Local MP Valerie Boyer had already called for for the event to be scrapped because the Islamic garb ‘subjugates women’.
France banned the wearing of the full-face covering burka six years ago, with former president Nicolas sarkozy calling the garment a “walking coffin”.
Parliament released a statement at the time reading: “Radical practices which violate the dignity and equality between men and women, such as the wearing of the full veil, are contrary to the values of the French Republic.’
“We consider it necessary to put all appropriate measures in place to ensure the protection of women who are subjected to violence and pressure, and in particular are forced to wear the full veil.”
French courts can now impose a one-year prison sentences and fines of up to 14,000 euro on men who force their wives to wear a burka.
Women face a smaller fine of 100 euros because they are “often victims with no choice in the matter”, the law states.