A village mayor in French seaside town of Cannes has directed the prohibition of full-body swimsuits known as “burkinis” after a beach brawl between families of North African descent and local youths.
Lionnel Luca, the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, announced the ban of the Islamic swim wear citing security concerns even as he branded the clothing “the uniform of extremist Islamism”.
He also said the prohibition was for sanitary reasons.
The ban was imposed at a special council session on Sunday in Sisco amid tensions over the brawl, in which five people were hurt.
“I was told that there was a couple on one of our beaches where the wife was swimming fully dressed, and I considered that unacceptable for hygienic reasons and unwelcome given the general situation,” he told the AFP news agency.
“In France, one does not come to the beach dressed to display one’s religious convictions, especially as they are false convictions that the religion does not demand.”
The ban has provoked strong criticism from Muslim groups and anti-discrimination organisations, who argue that women should have the freedom to dress how they wish.
This is even as a French human rights group has said it would oppose the ban in court, reports Al Jazeera.
Marwan Muhammad, the executive director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, posted a message on the group’s Facebook page.
He wrote: “Ten women have asked us to sue the town of Cannes.
“We are currently conducting interlocutory action against Cannes.
The burkini ban will remain in place until August 31, according to officials.
Anyone breaching the order could face a £32 fine.
Tension has grown this summer between local communities and Muslims of North African origin in the south of France, especially following the massacre of 85 people by a lorry driver on the seafront at Nice on 14 July.