A group of French Muslims is planning a “burkini beach party” to celebrate the failure of local politicians to ban Islamic swimwear.
Activists will don burkinis – a full-body swimsuit popular in Islamic countries – on the seafront in Cannes to coincide with the end of the Cannes Film Festival this Friday.
(A burkini-clad bather is pictured above, left, alongside two other women)
Women are being encouraged to buy striped burkinis in red white and blue – the colors of the French flag – to demonstrate their freedom to dress as they please.
It follows attempts by the local government in nearby Nice to ban anybody from wearing the garments, in a supposed defense of France’s secular values.
For a short time following 2016’s Bastille Day Islamic terror attack in nearby Nice, in which 86 people were killed and 434 injured, wearing a burkini on the beach was illegal. This led to ugly scenes of French police enforcing the ban and demanding that women take their clothes off:
— Suvash Acharya (@suvashacharya) August 28, 2016
The brief ban was brought to an end when the Conseil d’État – France’s supreme court – said that the ban was incompatible with freedom of expression and was therefore “manifestly illegal” in late August 2016.
The party is being organized by Rachid Nekkaz, a French-Algerian businessman who found fame last year by offering to pay the fines for any women convicted of violating the ban.
In an interview with French news outlet TheLocal.fr, Nekkas said: “The Cannes Film Festival is all about liberty and tolerance – It‘s the perfect place to celebrate this ‘newfound freedom’ in the city that was the first to ban the burkini.”
He said he isn’t religious himself – and doesn’t particularly like seeing women in the burkini – but was determined to defend the principle that people can dress as they please.
He said: “I’m not here to defend Islam, what I defend are civil liberties and freedom of conscience – the right for people to decide for themselves.”