The mayor of the city of Cannes, France, has announced a ban of full-body swimsuits, called “burkinis,” from local beaches.
David Lisnard described the burkinis as a “symbol of Islamic extremism,” saying it might spark fights after several terrorist attacks rocked France in recent months. France is still on high alert after last month’s truck attack that left dozens dead.
Those wearing a burkini could face a fine of 38 euros (about $42), the BBC reported on Friday.
Offenders will first be asked to change into different attire or leave.
No one has yet been caught flouting the ban, the BBC reported.
In 2011, France became the first European country to ban a full-face Islamic veil, known as the burka. It also banned a partial face covering known as the niqab.
Lisnard, as he issued the decree, said the burkini beachwear doesn’t respect “good morals and secularism” while posing a hygiene and public order risk, according to The Telegraph.
“Swimwear displaying religious affiliation in an ostentatious way, while France and its religious sites are currently the target of terrorist attacks, could create risks of trouble to public order,” the decree read.
Thierry Migoul, head of municipal services for Cannes, tried to explain the ban.
“We are not talking about banning the wearing of religious symbols on the beach, but ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us,” he said.
Lisnard noted: “I’m simply banning a uniform that is the symbol of Islamist extremism.”
The move has been panned by human rights groups and Muslim groups.
“This is abuse of the law and we reserve the right to take this to the courts,” said Hervé Lavisse, head of the local section of the Human Rights League, according to the Telegraph. “What next? Morality police like in the land of the Mullahs,” he said.
Feiza Ben Mohamed from the Southern Federation of Muslims said Cannes is acting above the law by issuing the ban. “The mayor is basically saying anyone who wears a burqini is a terrorist. He is creating tension between the state and the Muslim community at a time when he should be doing everything to avoid it,” Ben Mohamed told The Local.
Lisnard said the city also passed a law recently to outlaw men from “walking around bare-chested in a swimsuit in town.”