The Cannes burkini ban made its presence felt for the first time when 10 women were reprimanded for covering up while at the beach. Among the 10 were grandmothers and young mothers, who were forced off the beach and fined by the police.
The ban on the wearing of the burkini now makes sporting head and body covering garments in the water — commonly called burkinis — a criminal offense.
According to the Daily Mail, four of the women were charged around €37 in fines, and all of them have received criminal warnings that will appear on their records.
The reprimand came days after the mayor of Cannes controversially banned women from bathing in the sea while covering up their skin.
The burkini, which derives its name from the burqa and the bikini, is usually worn by Muslim women who wear the burqa or the headscarf, but its uses are manifold.
More importantly, it is not a legally defined item of clothing, and confusion is now raging over whether it can mean any water resistant clothing that covers the head — even for non-religious reasons.
The Cannes burkini ban has unveiled a spate of protests all over the country, with most people against the ordinance arguing that a move like this is bound to deepen rifts between the Muslim population of the country and the non-Muslim.
In the wake of the truck attack on Nice, which was led by a lone Muslim man and killed 85 people (30 of whom were Muslims), Cannes Mayor David Lisnard’s burkini ban has also been copied by several other French beach towns.
The New York Times draws attention to the fact that the burkini ban in Cannes is yet another example of the crumbling of the French principle of laïcité, which is the term that calls for separation of religion and government function.
It slowly becomes more and more difficult to justify the action taken specifically to curb the religious freedom of those following a religion that has often been taken to be the bearer of extremist violence. France’s burkini ban comes 12 years after the ban on wearing religious attire in public schools.
Although the newspaper quotes Lisnard from another interview as saying that the ban on the burkini is a “protective measure” meant to ostensibly protect women clad in burkinis from anyone acting upon the paranoia surrounding Muslims, many commentators worldwide have spoken on how ridiculous it is to only allow women in lesser clothing to bath in the French seas.
Critics suspect that Lisnard’s right-wing Republican background could well be the reason he would install a restrictive mandate that has no purpose other than to be Islamophobic.
He mentioned that he would not be banning the veil, the kippa or the cross on the beaches. The New York Times quoted him as he justified the Cannes burkini ban.
“If a woman goes swimming in a burkini, that could draw a crowd and disrupt public order. It is precisely to protect these women that I took this decision. The burkini is the uniform of extremist Islamism, not of the Muslim religion.”
It is lost on no one that an act of protecting women clad in burkinis would be to give them the freedom to choose whether they want to cover up or not.
The Evening Standard noted that the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) has filed a complaint on the Cannes burkini ban with Paris’s highest administrative court, the Council of State.
The report also brings to light the fact that the women who were between the ages of 29 and 57 were all accompanied by children and were notably upset at being charged with an offense.
Amidst the anger surrounding the Cannes burkini ban, BBC News collected many quotes from women who were in the habit of wearing religious garments in Britain, which has a large Muslim population as well. Among the quotes stood out the words of Maryam Ouiles.
“I think it’s outrageous that you would effectively be asked to uncover some flesh or leave.”
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