Controversy over burkini ban in Europe

(VOVworld)- Since August, a number of cities in France have banned women from wearing a body-covering Muslim swimsuit known as burkini at beaches and public swimming pools. Despite being supported by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the ban is likely to further divide France over ethnic and religious issues, especially since the country has become a regular target for Islamic extremists.
Controversy over burkini ban in Europe - ảnh 1

The “burqini” or “burkini” is a type of Muslim swimwear which was created in 2004. The name burkini is the combination of the two words “burka” (an Islamic veil) and bikini. Unlike the bikini, the burkini covers the wearer’s body.

France was the first country to issue a burkini ban. On July 28, David Lisnard, the Mayor of the city of Cannes, a famous tourist spot in southern France, banned full-body swimsuits known as "burkinis" from the beach, citing public order concerns. David Lisnard said they are a "symbol of Islamic extremism" and might spark scuffles, as France has been the target of Islamist attacks. After Cannes, other cities in France including 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. Most recently, Nice banned the burkini on city beaches. Nice’s deputy mayor, Christian Estrosi, of the centre-right Republicans, wrote in a letter to Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, on Tuesday that “hiding the face or wearing a full-body costume to go to the beach is not in keeping with France’s ideal of social relations.

The burkini ban has received strong reactions in France, especially after Muslim women were fine for violating the ban. The Group Combating Islamophobia in France (CCIF) said it would file a lawsuit against all local administrations that banned the burkini saying it was a serious violation of human rights. Judge Marie of the Cannes Court said the risk of disturbing public order, invoked by the Cannes mayor, seems rather tenuous.  He said the basic freedom to come and go dressed as you please seems to be infringed upon in a way that is disproportionate to this risk. Many people say the ban is irrational and that there is no link between political conflicts and Islamic swimwear. The newspaper Le Monde said there was no law in France banning swimwear. The law on banning wearing masks is only effective in public places while burkinis cover only the body, not the face.

Burkini bans have also provoked controversy in Belgium. The country’s New Flemish Alliance wanted to impose the ban at swimming pools and beaches. Nadia Sminate, member of the separatist New Flemish Alliance, argued that it was “absolutely necessary” to prevent women from wearing the Burkini in Flanders. She said she believes that women will be marginalized in society if such clothing is allowed. Blankenberge Mayor Patrick De Klerck said that wearing burkini on the beaches does not cause any discomfort and that he would not impose a ban on it. In Brussels, Victor Boin in Saint Giles was the only swimming pool to admit burkini wearing swimmers.

France has Europe’s largest Muslim minority. The controversy around the burkini shows that topics concerning Muslim are dividing French society. Analysts say the ban on the burkini cannot help root out terrorism in France amidst increasing terror threats.