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What people are saying about the controversial French burkini ban


A young woman wearing a burkini. (bellmon1/Flickr)

What is a burkini and why is it banned?

A burkini is a full-body swimsuit worn by many Muslim women who practice veiling as a part of their religion.

And France has banned the wearing of these full-body swimsuits -- burkinis -- when at the beach. Imposing this enforcement in 26 towns. The law states:

"Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to any person wearing improper clothes that are not respectful of accepted customs and secularism [...] 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"

Why have the "burkini bans" taken place?

The ban is because of concerns regarding religious extremism in the wake of Islamic terrorist attacks in the country.

France is a secular state that emphasizes the distinction between church and state -- the country had already banned the wearing of religious emblems in schools and colleges, and in 2010 banned full face veils.

To back up a bit, in Islam, the practice of veiling is done for many different reasons. Most typically, Muslim women wear the veil because it is believed to be instructed by Allah, or God, and wearing a headscarf or modest covering is intended to reflect one’s personal devotion. There are instances where this action is suppressive -- many women are required to cover themselves by law or by their husbands or parents. But more often than not, it is a choice made by the woman in her religious practice.

At first, the "burkini ban" ruling was celebrated because many saw the traditional full-body clothing that Muslim women took part in as a way of suppressing women's rights over their bodies and their lives. And it was thought by many officials, and supporters of this ban, that stopping this full body coverage would mean these women are no longer "oppressed."

But many are saying this law is hypocritical, especially when on Thursday images were revealed of armored French police demanding a woman take off the full body covering she chose to wear.

It is being compared to when in the US women's bathing suits were measured to ensure they were covering enough skin.

What are people saying about it?

There are many different, but also intensely heated, opinions about this ban.

There are of course many who are very upset and angry with the French government and find the ban oppressive.

And inspired many women to protest the laws.

Aheda Zanetti, an Australian who created the suit in 2004, said that she never intended for the piece of clothing to be a political statement.

And the ban seems to be backfiring a bit. Sales of the suit since it went into effect have skyrocketed 200%. Zanetti has this to say:

“[French officials] misunderstood the burkini swimsuit. Because the burkini swimsuit is freedom and happiness and lifestyle changes — you can’t take that away from a Muslim, or any other woman, that chooses to wear it.”

But there are others who believe the law has been completely blown out of proportion. Especially considering the highest possible fine is €38, which is about the same as 40 US dollars -- less than most parking tickets.

But, especially because the ban expires on August 31, 2016 which is less than a week away.

It does certainly seem, regardless of your opinion on the situation, to be creating serious tensions within France, where it has appeared to have split senior members of the French government, not to mention spectators around the world.

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What people are saying about the controversial French burkini ban

Allison Hollender

Allison is originally from Fresno, California, but made her way to the beautiful Central Coast, where she is a student at UC Santa Cruz, earning a degree in both history and politics, working as a reporter for City on a Hill Press, and guzzling gallons of coffee. She is a lover of television and all things Amy Poehler. Follow her embarrassing attempts at jokes on Twitter @alleyrenee16.

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