Burkini Bans Shake Up Europe

This is about safety, not religious intolerance, in a time of terror

As tensions continue to rise between authorities and practitioners of Islam in various parts of the world — those tensions have now hit the beaches.

New photos show a Muslim woman being confronted by police on a beach in Nice, France. Authorities reportedly requested she remove the outer parts of her swimwear, known as a burkini, in compliance with a ban on the clothing recently imposed after the Bastille Day terror attack that killed 84.

Tensions are at a peak in France after the Bastille Day attack, which was followed by the murder of 86-year-old priest Jacques Hamel.

About 20 miles away, the French Riviera city of Cannes has also banned any overtly religious clothing on the beach after recent terror attacks in France and other European countries.

In the photos, the woman removes a blue outer garment, and one of the officers appears to take notes or issue a fine.

The ban is temporary and runs from July 28 until Aug. 31, according to CNN. Those who violate the ban face fines of about $42, said the mayor’s office in Cannes.

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“A beach outfit showing in an ostentatious manner a religious affiliation, given that France and religious places are currently the target of terrorist acts, has the nature of creating risks of troubles of public order (mobs, conflicts, etc.) that are necessary to be prevented,” reads the new ban, as CNN reported.

Tensions are at a peak in France after the Bastille Day attack, which was followed by the murder of 86-year-old priest Jacques Hamel. The elderly priest was stabbed to death in a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray as he was saying Mass.

Villeneuve-Loubet, just west of Nice, was among the first of 15 towns to ban the burkini, according to A fierce debate quickly began in France and elsewhere about the rights of women and freedom of religion.

Related: Germans Want Partial Ban on Face Veil

Liberal American news outlets are trying to position the ban as a move to enforce French nationalism — an article in The Washington Post explained the root causes of the burkini ban, blaming both lingering French colonialism and feelings of cultural superiority.

“This, of course, is not really about swimwear,” said the publication. “Social scientists say it is also not primarily about protecting Muslim women from patriarchy, but about protecting France’s non-Muslim majority from having to confront a changing world: one that requires them to widen their sense of identity when many would prefer to keep it as it was.”

Eighty-four people were murdered while they were out enjoying the equivalent of America’s 4th of July. A question of identity and patriarchy? Hardly.

The temporary burkini ban is about French communities doing everything within their power — controversial or not — to stop any more slaughter of its citizens.

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