Italian Imam Posts Photo of Nuns on Beach to Protest Burqini Ban

Nuns on beach
Screen grab

The president of Italy’s largest Islamic association has posted a photo of Catholic nuns splashing in the shallow water along the seashore to protest recent bans on burqinis.

Izzedin Elzir, the imam of Florence and president of the Union of Italian Islamic Communities (UCOII), posted the picture on his Facebook page, insisting that it is “hypocritical” to allow certain religious outfits in beachwear while prohibiting others.

On Friday, Nice became the latest French resort town to ban apparel that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.” The Nice ban, following that of 15 other French towns, has been seen as specifically targeting the burqini—a full length bathing suit used by some Muslim women as beachwear.

Just over a month ago Nice was victim to a horrific attack by an Islamic terrorist who drove his truck along the waterfront Promenade des Anglais, mowing down pedestrians celebrating Bastille Day. The July 14 massacre resulted in the deaths of 86 people, with hundreds more suffering injuries.

Early last week, Nice’s former Mayor Christian Estrosi wrote to Prime Minister Manuel Valls, saying that “hiding the face or wearing a full-body costume to go to the beach is not in keeping with our ideal of social relations.”

Elzir’s Facebook post has garnered over 3,000 shares and numerous comments, both pro and contra, with some arguing that burqinis oppress women and violate France’s secular principles, and others claiming the bans unfairly target Muslims.

Taking the imam’s side, some commenters said that “the sea is for everyone,” and burqini bans are “a psychological tool against Muslims.”

Others, however, underscored differences between the ban on burkinis and the religious habits of Catholic nuns.

“Don’t confuse the two different situations: these are women who have CHOSEN to religious life with the rules that it imposes, the ‘others’ are FORCED to dress even on the beach,” one comment read.

The Imam said that he posted the photo to “demonstrate the hypocrisy” of partisan politics that celebrates the “covered” figures of Mary and Joseph but reacts strongly against “covered” Muslim women.

According to Elzir, the burqini only came into fashion among Muslim women over the past few years, and that “some politicians in France, instead of responding to the political and economic needs of their citizens, are concentrating on how Muslims dress.”

On Tuesday, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said that Italy wouldn’t follow France in banning the burqini, but is focusing instead on monitoring imams and mosques.

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