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What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?

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What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?
Photo: AFP
17:21 CEST+02:00
With 64 percent of the French against burqinis at the beach, what do the Parisians think? The Local heads to the Paris Plages temporary beaches to find out.
Burqinis have been banned from beaches at almost 30 towns in France, decisions that have left France and indeed the world divided. 
 
While the bans are being investigated by France's high administrative court, some 64 percent of French people have said they are against people wearing burqinis at the beach.
 
The topic proved a fierce point of debate on the comments section of The Local's Facebook page too, with over 100 comments seeing people from both sides of the divide sharing their two centimes.
 
But what do people think of the burqini in Paris, a city with only a temporary man-made beach on offer (and where the ban is yet to be introduced)?
 
The Local headed down to the the Paris Plages on the banks of the Seine River to find out more. 
 
Paris Plages. Photo: AFP
 
And contrary to the findings of the Le Figaro survey, most of the Parisians The Local spoke with said they were not opposed to people wearing the burqini, with many responding that they believed everyone should be allowed to wear what they want.
 
But not everyone was so liberal. 
 
Laure, (pictured below) a retired accountant from Paris, said she thought people were afraid to say how they really felt.
 
"I think the French people who said they have no problem with burqinis on the beach are lying. French people don't want to see burqinis on the beach. They are against all types of full body cover-ups. But they are too scared to say so," she said. 
 
Laure says the French are too scared to tell the truth. Photo: The Local
 
"Beaches are made for exposing the body, they are made for freedom. When I see women in burqinis or burqas, I am shocked. France is a secular country. It's not enough to say we don't care about women wearing burqinis. We do care."
 
Others went as far as to say that the burqini ban was "ridiculous", including yoga practitioner Sylvie (pictured below, left).
 
"No one knows what is acceptable anymore. Everyone should be able to wear what they want. It's a beach," she said.
 
"These are our bodies and they are ours to do whatever we like with. Perhaps it would be better if we were all nude all the time."
 
Sylvie, left. Photo: The Local
 
While the idea might sound liberating, some spectators at the Paris Plages noted that wearing too little can actually land you in trouble too. 
 
"Just now I saw police speaking to a woman because she was wearing a bikini that was too revealing," said Gijs, a 31-year-old who calls Paris home.
 
"So it's funny that you ask me about whether I am for the burqini. But I have no problems with the burqini, just as I have no problem with what anyone is wearing. It seems like these policemen just want something to do. Telling people not to wear it is exaggerated and unnecessary," he said. 
 
His was a popular sentiment among those at the temporary beach, although one Muslim woman went as far as to say she thought wearing the burqini at all was overkill. 
 
"I personally find the burqini a bit of a shocking sight," said Besma, a banker.
 
Photo: AFP
 
"My own mother wore a headscarf but she would have never considered a burqini or a burqa. I have read the Quran and it is written nowhere that women must cover themselves up in all black as if they are in mourning.
 
"It feels like we're living in the Middle Ages again: in the Middle East women are being forced to cover up, and here in France – a supposedly free country – they are being forced to undress," she said.
 
And for some, it was the burqini's lack of practicality that caused them to raise an eyebrow. 
 
Jean-Paul, a fast-food stand owner, said that the burqini represented a "regression in Islam".
 
"If you look at pictures of women in Muslim countries such as Algeria from the 1960s, you see them wearing bikinis and swimsuits," he said.
 
"And anyway, why go to the beach in a burqini? You can't even tan!"
 
By Fatima Al-Kassab
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