Bretons bathe fully clothed as Muslim asked to leave beach

Protesters in Brittany take to the sea fully clothed after video emerges of a veil-wearing Muslim woman being asked to leave the beach in Nice, despite France's top court ruling burqini-bans are illegal.

Bretons bathe fully clothed as Muslim asked to leave beach
Photo: Screen shot/Ouest France

Some thirty beach-goers went for a dip fully-clothed on the beach of Douarnenez in Brittany on Sunday to show their solidarity with Muslim women and to demonstrate their anger at the recent spate of burqini bans.

Photos taken at the beach show both men and women participating in the protest, wearing clothes and even head coverings whilst swimming in the sea. 

The protest was organised by local feminist group “Le Planning familial du Finistere”, who wished to stand up against burqini bans recently imposed in around 30 towns in France.

“These Muslim women are French women, and the anti-burqini rules were persecuting them. It’s intolerable”, one member of the group told a local newspaper.

Monique Prevost, who organised the protest on the beach, told The Local: “We wanted to show our solidarity with these women.’

She explained that idea to gather in protest of the burqini bans came to her and her friends last minute on Friday evening. 

“We were discussing how the burqini is all anyone is talking about these days and how the ban isn’t justified.  We discussed how we could denounce the grotesque side of the situation that has developed,” she added.

“We decided to gather on the beach as a way of showing our solidarity with these women.’

She told The Local that the reaction to their beach protest has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Photos of us on the beach have been shared and liked thousands of times. As of yet we have only received one hostile comment in response,” she said.

The protest in support of women choosing to wear the burqini came as a video emerged of a Muslim woman apparently being asked to leave the beach in Nice, southern France, because she was wearing a veil.

The incident occurred on Saturday, a day after France's highest administrative court overturned the ban on burqinis at a nearby resort.

The ruling was supposed to set a precedent but local authorities in Nice refused to accept it.

According to Nice Matin newspaper which published the video, the police arrived in a patrol boat and approached the woman from the sea.

She was informed that there was a rule about what she could wear on the beach.

She told the police she was not actually swimming in the sea, but nevertheless left the beach with her and her family.

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French mayor reignites burkini row after banning Muslim swimwear at leisure park

A notorious French mayor has kicked up a storm after introducing a burkini and Muslim veil ban at a new swimming spot in his town, despite the fact the bans were ruled illegal last year.

French mayor reignites burkini row after banning Muslim swimwear at leisure park
File photo: W/Flickr

A year after several resorts on the French Riviera made global headlines and prompted criticism from around the world for imposing burkini bans on Muslim bathers, a French mayor risks inflaming the row once again.

Gerard Tardy, the mayor of Lorette, a town to the south of Lyon in Central France, has imposed a ban on burkinis – the full-body swimwear worn by some Muslim women and the wearing of headscarves at a new outdoor swimming area.

The leisure park was opened on June 23rd and includes two man-made swimming areas and a beach the public must pay to access.

But the new rules laid down in a Town Hall decree have sparked controversy.

Article 4 of the decree says users must “have decent attire and a correct attitude.”

It also includes the line: “On the beach monokinis, burkinis, veils that partially or totally conceal the face are banned.”

A sign has also been erected at the beach with symbols that show everything that is forbidden. As well as the Muslim headscarf, the Town Hall has also banned dogs, drinking alcohol and football.

Users are warned that anyone who ignores these rules will be immediately expelled from the beach by the security teams or police.

It remains to be seen how French authorities will react to the ban.

In the summer of 2016 France’s highest administrative court the State Council (Conseil d’Etat) set a precedent when it overturned a ban on the burkini swimsuit brought in by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

It called the bans that had been introduced by around 30 coastal towns, mainly in the south of the country “a serious and illegal attack on fundamental freedoms”.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) hailed the ruling as “a victory for common sense”.

Amnesty International also welcomed the court’s ruling saying it had “drawn an important line in the sand” by overturning “a discriminatory ban” that was “fueled by prejudice and intolerance”.

Reacting to the Lorette's burkini ban, Aldo Oumouden, the spokesman for the Grande Mosque in the nearby city of Saint Etienne said: “Wanting to ban the veil in this swimming area is an attack on the individual freedom of Muslims.”

“The mayor does not realize that this decision will further increase stigma. It is not only unnecessary but also devastating for community harmony.”

There has also been criticism of the mayor on social media channels, where many were shocked by the fact women wearing Muslim veils are subject to the same beach ban as dogs are.

But the mayor of Lorette has history when it comes to antagonizing his local Muslim population.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year he put up messages on the town’s electronic billboards asking Muslims to celebrate Ramadan “without making any noise”.

“The mayor needs to wake up, France is multi-cultural,” said Oumouden.

The mayor has yet to respond to media requests to explain his ban.