The mayor of Cannes has banned full-body, head-covering swimsuits worn by some Muslim women from the resort’s beaches.
The ban on so-called burkinis, at the height of the French Riviera holiday season, comes as the country remains on edge after deadly Islamic extremist attacks on nearby Nice and on a Catholic church in northwest France.
Cannes Mayor David Lisnard issued an order forbidding beachwear that doesn’t respect “good morals and secularism,” noting that swimwear “manifesting 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.”
A City Hall official said the order, in effect for August, could apply to burkini-style swimsuits. Violators risk a 38 euro (£32) fine.
Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services for the town told AFP: “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.”
Meanwhile a waterpark near the French city of Marseille, which had planned to host a ‘Burkini only’ day, has called the event off.
The Speedwater Park had said it would only admit women who cover their bodies between their necks and knees for a day in September, after being booked out for the event by a community group.
Amid criticism from politicians who condemned the park for holding the day, saying it showed some Muslims wanted to be “outside our society”, it cancelled the event, stating the decision had been taken to preserve public order which was being endangered by “extreme ideological positions.”
France, which has a strong commitment to keeping its politics and public life secular, banned the wearing of the full face veil, the burkha, in public.