Thursday, August 25, 2016

French Town Official Threatens To Sue Those Circulating Photos of Burkini Ban

In France in recent weeks, a number of seaside towns have barred Muslim women from wearing the "burkini"-- a swimsuit that covers them from knees to chest. (See prior posting.) The bans have variously been supported by reference to the French principle of laïcité (secularism in the public sphere), or by arguments that the burkini represents the "enslavement of women," or that the swimwear is a provocation in light of recent Islamist terrorist attacks in France. Now, photos of police enforcing the ban in Nice which were widely published in European media have become the center of additional controversy as the deputy mayor of Nice yesterday issued a statement (full text in French) threatening to sue anyone who shares the photos online.  He contends that the photos "provoke defamatory remarks and threats" against the police.  As reported by The Verge:
In the image, taken by a French photographer, four male police officers surround the woman and appear to issue a fine. With the men still standing over her, the woman was photographed removing her long tunic top. The agency that released the pictures in the UK said ... that the woman was fined and left the beach, but the office of Nice's mayor denied that she had been forced to remove her clothes, telling AFP that she was only showing the officers that she was wearing a swimsuit under her clothes. Notably, the woman was not wearing a burkini, but a long-sleeved tunic, headscarf, and leggings. The legal basis for Estrosi's lawsuit threats remains unclear.