If you thought the hijab had become the world’s most controversial article of clothing, it might be time to think again. The burqini has been making a concerted play to claim that mantle lately. After the mayor of Cannes, France, outlawed the wearing of the burqini, a full-bodied swimsuit that allows women to maintain the modesty required by traditional Islam even while taking a dip in the water, two more mayors have followed suit. The latest burqini ban comes in the wake of a wild brawl that reportedly erupted on a beach in the town of Sisco, on Corsica island. Some 200 people took part in the melee. Rocks and bottles were thrown and brawlers were reportedly lacerated with harpoon blades. At least five ended up in the hospital. Local reports indicated the rumble was started by a dispute over a group of women seen swimming in burqinis, but other reports suggested the brawl began with a separate argument.
What’s not in dispute, however, is that the burqini — like the burqa before it — is increasingly seen in France as a threat to the country’s secularist values, and in some corners stokes actual terror fears. Critics have argued that the bans on the burqini are sexist, but France’s women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol weighed in on the controversy, suggesting that the burqini itself is sexist. She told a local newspaper, “The burkini is not some new line of swimwear, it is the beach version of the burqa and it has the same logic: Hide women’s bodies in order to better control them.” Rossignol is no stranger to controversy when it comes to the intersection of Islam and women’s clothing. In March, she sparked an uproar and faced calls for her resignation after criticizing fashion brands that design and market stylish hijabs to women.
Wading into another potential controversy, Rossignol stuck to her point, adding, “It is not just the business of those women who wear it, because it is the symbol of a political project that is hostile to diversity and women’s emancipation.”
Read the full story at Reuters.