Nice becomes latest French city to ban burkini outfit

Nice becomes latest French city to ban burkini outfit

This picture taken on August 19, 2016 shows the bylaw forbidding women to wear Burkini at the beach in Nice, southeastern France on August 19, 2016. — AFP
This picture taken on August 19, 2016 shows the bylaw forbidding women to wear Burkini at the beach in Nice, southeastern France on August 19, 2016. — AFP

NICE, France — Nice has become the latest French seaside resort to ban the burkini, the body-concealing Islamic swimsuit that has sparked heated debate in secular France, city officials said late Friday.

Using language similar to bans imposed in a string of other towns on the French Riviera, the city barred apparel that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks”.

The wording of the ban in Nice refers specifically to last month’s Bastille Day truck attack in the city that claimed 86 lives as well as the murder 12 days later of a Catholic priest near the northern city of Rouen.

Fifteen towns in the southeast, as well as others elsewhere in France, have already banned the burkini including nearby film festival host city Cannes, where three women were each fined 38 euros ($43) under the ban at the weekend.

Nice’s deputy mayor Christian Estrosi, from the center-right Republicans party, wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Manuel Valls Tuesday that “hiding the face or wearing a full-body costume to go to the beach is not in keeping with our ideal of social relations”.

Valls came under fire after saying Wednesday that the burkini was “not compatible with the values of France and the Republic”.

The Socialist premier cited the tensions in France after the extremists attacks to justify his support for the mayors who barred a garment that he said was “founded on the subjugation of women”.

France’s Human Rights League accused Valls of “participating in the stigmatization of a category of French people who have become suspect by virtue of their faith”.

German conservatives call for partial ban on face veil

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have agreed that women should be banned from wearing the face veil in schools and universities and while driving, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday.

The move follows an influx last year of more than 1 million, mainly Muslim, refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and growing security fears among the public after two attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager.

Regional interior ministers belonging to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Christian Social Union (CSU) allies presented a declaration in Berlin on tougher security measures, including more police and greater surveillance in public areas.

Among the more disputed proposals is a call for a partial ban on the burqa and niqab garments. Lorenz Caffier, interior minister for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said the full body veil is a barrier to integration, encourages parallel societies and suggests women are inferior.

“We all reject the full veil — not only the burqa but also other types of full veil that only leave the eyes visible … It has no place in our society,” de Maiziere told reporters.

“Baring one’s face is essential for our communication, co-existence and social cohesion and that’s why we’re asking everyone to show their faces. We want to introduce a law to make people show their faces and that means that those who breach that law will have to feel the consequences.”

The CDU proposals must be adopted by the government before they can become law. The debate over a ban on the face veil has divided Merkel’s ruling coalition; her Social Democrat (SPD) junior coalition partners largely oppose the demands.