Published: Mon, August 15, 2016
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Cannes bans full-body 'burkini' swimsuits from beaches

Weeks after France's southern city of Cannes placed a ban on "burkini" full-body swimsuits, the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet has announced that his city will also be doing the same.

The League of Human Rights (LDH) has already confirmed that they would be challenging the burkini ban in a court while the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) has said they would also launch a legal challenge against the "illegal, discriminatory and unconstitutional" ban.

Sefen Guez Guez said by telephone the decision was made by a judge without a debate. In an interview published Friday in the Nice-Matin newspaper, Lisnard said the measure could also apply to saris worn by Indian bathers, because the clothing could hamper rescuers' efforts to save them in an emergency.

The Cannes ban comes at sensitive time for Muslim-Christian relations in France after a series of attacks last month linked to the Islamic State (IS).

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Cannes mayor David Lisnard said he had signed off on the burkini ban out of "respect for good customs and secularism", a founding principle of the French republic.

"I was informed that there was a couple on one of our beaches where the wife was swimming fully dressed", Lionnel Luca said.

It is the latest example of the long-running tensions between France's forceful - some say inconsistent - commitment to secularism and the desire of many Muslims to express traditional values like modesty through their attire. "I considered that unacceptable for hygienic reasons and that, in general, it was unwelcome".

This is despite the fact that French women are increasingly covering up on the beach and topless sunbathing on the south of France has been declining for years.

The measure bans swimwear displaying "religious affiliation in an ostentatious way (that), while France and its religious sites are now the target of terrorist attacks, could create risks of trouble to public order".

She said rich Saudi Arabian princesses would not be sanctioned, and instead police would humiliate "a veiled mother who simply wants to take her children to cool off at the beach".

The two clothing bans follow the cancellation of a private "burkini pool party" at a waterpark in Marseille.

It means that Muslim women wearing burkinis could be a threat to public order and will be cautioned and fined €38 (AUD$55).

In April 2011, France became the first European country to ban wearing in public the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes.

And on July 26, a priest was killed in his church in northwestern France by two attackers who had proclaimed their allegiance to IS.

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