Local outrage ensued after a water park near Marseille, France, announced a Muslim-only event for Muslim women to wear their Islamic-inspired “burkini” full-body bathing suits.
The event scheduled for September 13 was organized by a women’s group called Smile 13 and is restricted to women wearing the full-body swim suits purportedly approved by Muslim clerics.
The women’s group celebrated the “burkini” as a proper protection of women’s modesty, saying, “The goal of the burkini is precisely not to tempt since it’s a loose outfit,” according to CNN.
“Women wandering around in bikinis are more at risk for rape, that’s for sure,” the women’s group says on its Facebook page.
But others in France insist that the burka and the burkini are symbols of oppression and evidence of the second-class status of women in Islam.
Valérie Boyer, a member of the center-right Les Republicains political party, released a statement slamming the water park event: “Burka, chador, abaya, niqab, hijab, the name doesn’t matter–they constitute a confinement of the gender, a negation of the person, a prohibition of liberty, a prohibition equality, a prohibition of fraternity,” Boyer said.
The event is perhaps on shaky grounds because France outlawed the public wearing of burkas in 2011. But while some say since the water park event is on private property, the event is likely permissible, the mayor of the town in which the water park is situated is still trying to ban the event.
Michel Amiel, mayor of Pennes-Mirabeau, insists that the event could cause unrest and perhaps embolden Muslims to push against the burka ban.
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