When French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested that bare breasts were more representative of his country than burqinis, he was alluding to France’s famous symbol of liberty, Marianne. The city of Paris, however, appears to have taken his words to heart, as city councilors announced that they have approved plans for an experimental nudist recreational area that could be instituted as soon as next summer.
There are two million nudists in France, according to Councilman David Belliard, a Green Party member. “For them Paris is the world’s premiere tourist destination and there’s no public place for them to go,” he said. “We want to try out a recreational area where nudists can freely strip off.” Parisian Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard has said that he would support the plan so long as the area is “near a lake [or] in a regulated setting so that there is no threat to public order.”
The announcement angered some who noted that some of France’s Muslim population of about five million encountered far less encouraging attitudes when they attempted to go to beach or swimming pools in the full-body coverings known as burqinis. Dozens of cities and towns enacted bans on the garments before France’s highest administrative court struck down the bans in August. According to a survey for Le Figaro, 64 percent of French people were against burqinis being worn on beaches.
Belliard, however, insisted that the move to introduce a nudist area was not meant as an attack on those who prefer to cover up. “People can dress how they want to and thus choose to not get dressed at all,” said the councilman.
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