Photo of French police enforcing burkini ban goes viral, politician threatens legal action

A Muslim woman wears a burkini on a beach in Marseille, France, August 17, 2016. © Stringer
A French politician is threatening legal action against social media users for sharing a photo of police enforcing a ban on the burkini. He says the image "puts officers at risk."

One photo shows four armed police officers surrounding a woman on the beach at Promenade des Anglais in Nice, the scene of last month's Bastille Day truck attack.

The 34-year-old mother of two was forced to remove a blue long-sleeved tunic and was fined for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” AFP reported.

“I was sitting on a beach with my family,” said the woman, whose first name is Siam. “I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming.”

Mathilde Cousin, an eyewitness, told the news agency that some people were shouting “go home” and applauding the police. “Her daughter was crying,” she said.

Another video circulating online appears to show a woman wearing a hijab being forced from the water by a policeman.

It comes after Nice officially banned the burkini last week, following the example of more than a dozen other seaside areas. The ban states that clothing which “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks” is prohibited.

But posting images and videos of the ban's enforcement is considered unacceptable by Christian Estrosi, president of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. He is threatening legal action against those who share such incidents online.

“I am denouncing what seems like a manipulation that undermines the local police, and puts the officers at risk,” he said in a Wednesday statement.

"Already, complaints were filed to prosecute those who spread the photographs of our municipal police officers and those uttering threats against them on social networks,” he added.

Despite the ban's passage by the city of Nice, the legislation could be overruled on Thursday, when it goes before the state council, France's highest administrative court, following an appeal by the Human Rights League. The ban has also been condemned by members of the ruling Socialist party and the Green party.

READ MORE: 'French first, Muslim second': Riviera mayor defends burkini ban

Meanwhile, the French Council for the Muslim Faith has requested an urgent meeting with interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, saying the ban is behind a “growing fear of stigmatization of Muslims in France.”

The decision by the state council will set a legal precedent for other French towns to follow.