French PM supports 'burqini' ban as 3 more towns set to follow suit

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has supported mayors who have banned burqinis, saying the swimwear is “not compatible with the values” of the country. His statement comes as more French towns announced plans to ban the female Muslim swimwear.

“The burqini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women,” Valls said, as cited by La Provence newspaper.

According to the French PM, the idea that women are not pure by nature and that they should be completely covered is archaic.

Wearing of the burqini as “not compatible with the values of France and the Republic,” Valls added.

Three more towns move to ban burqini

The small commune of Leucate – home to some 4,000 residents on the Mediterranean coast of France – announced its ‘anti-burqini’ bid on Tuesday.

The decree, which is scheduled to be signed by Mayor Michel Py, states that the ban will run till August 31. It will bar “any person who is not properly dressed, respectful of moral behavior and secularism, hygiene and bathing safety.”

“The wearing of bathing clothes which are associated with these principles is also forbidden,” the text of the law, seen by AFP, states.

Two more towns which are planning to join the ban are located in the Nord-Pas-De-Calais department.

The mayor of Oye-Plage commune, some 11km from Calais, announced the decision to move ahead with the ban on Tuesday. "It [the burqini] is contrary to the principle of secularism and not very respectful towards women," Olivier Majewicz said, as cited by La Voix Du Nord Newspaper. 

“On Sunday, I went to the beach …. There was a lady in a black burqini. We could see only her eyes. This shocked and disturbed me. I was unable to say anything,” he said.

Some 90km from Oye-Plage, the resort of Le Touquet also decided to banish the Muslim swimwear. The local mayor and MP Daniel Fasquelle explained that the ban aims “to fight against religious proselytizing.”

"There are no burqinis in Le Touquet at the moment, but I don't want the town hall to be caught off-guard if we are affected by this phenomenon," Fasquelle told AFP.

The first place to ban burqinis was Cannes on the French Riviera, with Mayor David Lisnard ruling that “access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have [bathing apparel] that respects good customs and secularism.”

Cannes has started officially fining women who wear burqinis on the beach. At least 10 women wearing the swimwear have been approached by police, a Cannes spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that six left the beach and four were fined €38.

"Following the [terrorist] attacks [of July in Nice], the atmosphere is very tense and the burqini is seen as an ostentatious display that can threaten public order, that is why we took the measure," she said.

Cannes’ example was followed by the mayor of another French Riviera town, Villeneuve-Loubet. This time the Muslim swimwear was banned for “hygiene reasons,” according to the town’s mayor, Lionnel Luca.

A village on the French island of Corsica became the third place in France to ban burqinis after the swimwear reportedly caused a violent brawl between locals and migrants of North African origin there.

Earlier in August, the Pennes-Mirabeau commune near Marseille canceled a controversial pool party that had been planned by a Muslim group. The organizers, the Smile 13 group, which describes itself on Facebook as a sports and social event group for women and children, said they had received death threats, with one person even claiming they received bullets in the mail.