The French government has defended municipal bans on body-covering Muslim burkini swimwear but called on mayors to try and cool tensions between communities.It's also bad for hygiene, and there's various health sources in France who believe, with good reason, that healthy hygiene is crucial.
Three Mediterranean towns – Cannes, Villeneuve-Loubet and Sisco on the island of Corsica – have banned the burkini, and Le Touquet on the Atlantic coast is planning to do the same.
The mainly conservative mayors who have imposed the ban say the garment, which leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, defies French laws on secularism.
The burkini debate is particularly sensitive in France given deadly attacks by Islamist militants, including bombings and shootings in Paris which killed 130 people last November, which have raised tensions between communities and made people wary of public places.
The socialist government’s minister for women’s rights, Laurence Rossignol, said municipal bans on the burkini should not be seen in the context of terrorism but she supported the bans.
“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,” Rossignol told French daily Le Parisien in an interview.
Rossignol said the burkini had sparked tensions on French beaches because of its political dimension.And they're doing the right thing. In fact, burkinis could be used as smuggling tools, something you can't do with a bikini (Ursula Andress sure couldn't have done that with hers in Doctor No back in 1962). For example, they could be used to smuggle smalls parts for explosives, or even hand grenades, guns and knives. They could even be used for drug smuggling and hiding documents and money. That's another reason why it's best to ban them from the beaches.
“It is not just the business of those women who wear it, because it is the symbol of a political project that is hostile to diversity and women’s emancipation,” she said.
On Saturday, a brawl broke out between Muslim families and a group of young Corsicans in Sisco after a tourist took pictures of women bathing in burkini. The mayor banned burkinis on Monday.