PARIS (Reuters) – A Corsican seaside resort on Monday became the third French town to ban the body-covering burkini swimsuit worn by some Muslim women, following weekend scuffles on the beach.
The cities of Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet have banned the burkini, arguing that the garment, which leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, defies French laws on secularism.
Socialist mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni of Sisco, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, told BFM Television the burkini was not acceptable in his town.
“People here feel provoked by things like that,” he said.
He said he was not targeting Muslims but he wanted to get rid of Islamist fundamentalists on the island. “These people have no business here,” he said.
On France Info radio, Vivoni denied media reports saying that a scuffle on the Sisco beach Saturday night had been sparked by a tourist taking pictures of Muslim women bathing in a burkini.
“The brawl was not due to a burkini. Young Corsicans were defending tourists who were peacefully taking pictures of the landscape,” he said.
He said the ban on the burkini – the word is a combination of burqa and bikini – aimed to protect both people of North African descent as well as others in the community.
“The population of Sisco lives in permanent fear. There are many provocateurs here … We are living on a powder keg,” he said.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Richard Balmforth)