Australian wears burkini to test tolerance on French Riviera, faces abuse by locals
Zeynab Alshelh traveled to the French Riviera to support Muslims after a number of French cities attempted to ban the burkini earlier this summer.
“I just wanted to see it for myself, I wanted to see what is going on here – why is this happening – I want to speak to the girls who have gone through this kind of stuff,” she told 7 News Australia.
Alshelh and her mother wore blue burkinis and were quickly confronted by French beachgoers.
“We were threatened by locals to leave the beach and if we didn't they were going to call the police,” Alshelh said. “They weren't happy with us being there, even though it was on the beach that the burkini ban was overturned but the locals were not happy.”
The medical student said a man confronted her and threatened to call the police, while others expressed their disapproval through hand gestures and comments.
Akselh and a local Muslim woman then decided to open themselves up to questions about the burkini, with the pair holding signs which read, “Ask me about my burkini” in English and French. They received a similar reception.
“There shouldn't be a connection between terrorism and the burkini and there shouldn't be a connection between terrorism and Islam altogether,” Akselh said.
Despite a French court ruling which deemed the ban on burkinis is in violation of basic freedoms, a number of French towns have continued to enforce the ban.
Australian Aheda Zanetti, who invented the burkini has expressed frustration at the backlash aimed at the swimwear.
“This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away?” Zanetti told the Guardian. “So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians? They are as bad as each other.”