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  • Sana Uqba

France's phantom values: 'Freedom and equality'

Full body swimsuits, regularly worn by practising Muslim women across the world, have now been banned on the beaches of a French Riviera resort after officials suggested that the swimwear shows an affiliation with terrorists at war with the country.

The Burkini is banned in France’s southern Cannes city, the mayor ruled on Thursday, noting the swimwear does not abide by the founding principle of the French republic.

"Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have (bathing apparel) which respects good customs and secularism," Mayor David Lisnard said, as he signed the controversial ruling.

"Beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order (crowds, scuffles etc) which is necessary to prevent," he said.

But the controversial sentiment was (poorly) rephrased by the town’s head of municipal services, Thierry Migoule, who attempted to clarify that the move does not ban "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."

So in short, according to French officials, the Burkini – worn by millions of Muslims – is representative of the Islamic State group which has targeted France on several occasions recently. And despite the deaths of many French Muslims in these attacks, anti-Muslim sentiment among leadership ranks as well as the public has only but accelerated.

The issue of Muslim identity has already been a hot topic in France for several years, where the full-face veil adopted by many female Muslims is banned in public places.

France's Minister for Women's Rights Laurence Rossignol recently accused major international brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Uniqlo of being socially irresponsible for offering to cater to Muslim fashion.

In a TV interview broadcast in France, the minister also compared wearing the veil with black people being in favour of slavery.

When France's Muslims do attempt to use their freedom to demonstrate their efforts to integrate it is rejected, misunderstood and interpreted as a threat

"When France's Muslims do attempt to use their freedom to demonstrate their efforts to integrate (in initiatives such as Muslim fashion or halal meat in restaurants serving French cuisine) it is rejected, misunderstood and interpreted as a threat,” Ahmed Jaballah, a former president of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF) said.

Abiding by France's founding principles; liberty, equality and fraternity is a must in the democratic country – that is unless you make a voluntary decision to freely practice your religious beliefs, Muslims.

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