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Another Day, Another Burkini Ban in France

A French mayor decided the only way he could quell future beach violence in his town was to ban the burkini.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA: Mecca Laa Laa (C) is wearing a full body covering known as the "burqini" and sits on a rescue board together with other Muslim life savers at Sydney's Cronulla beach, 04 February 2007.  Australia's first group of Muslim life savers hit the sand of Sydney's beaches a year after the mobs of whites attacked Lebanese Australian's in a bit to "reclaim the beach".  AFP PHOTO/Anoek DE GROOT (Photo credit should read ANOEK DE GROOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Sydney, AUSTRALIA: Mecca Laa Laa (C) is wearing a full body covering known as the "burqini" and sits on a rescue board together with other Muslim life savers at Sydney's Cronulla beach, 04 February 2007. Australia's first group of Muslim life savers hit the sand of Sydney's beaches a year after the mobs of whites attacked Lebanese Australian's in a bit to "reclaim the beach". AFP PHOTO/Anoek DE GROOT (Photo credit should read ANOEK DE GROOT/AFP/Getty Images)

This weekend, after a brawl broke out between Muslim beach-goers and a group of teenage boys at a swimming creek in Sisco, France, the village’s mayor decided there was only one thing he could do to quell future violence: ban the “burkini,” a full-body swimsuit worn by pious Muslim women who prefer to swim with their bodies completely covered.

According to French news outlets, the fight was sparked by the teenage boys’ insistence on taking photos of women wearing burkinis without requesting permission. It escalated quickly, and five people — including a pregnant woman — were briefly hospitalized.

Mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni said his Sunday decision has “nothing to do with racism; it’s about protecting people’s security.”

Vivoni, a socialist, joins a growing list of French officials in cities and towns who are banning the burkini at public beaches and pools. In an interview with France’s BFM-TV, he said he wanted to rid his community of Islamic extremists.

“These people have no business here,” Vivoni said.

Last Friday, the local government in the popular tourist destination of Cannes announced a similar ban, also citing security concerns.

In France, traditional Muslim dress that covers the face — including both the burqa and the niqab — is illegal in public spaces. But the burkini covers only the hair, not the face, of whomever chooses to wear it and looks more like a surfing or diving wetsuit than anything else.

After criticism of the Sisco ban floated around on social media Monday, French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud took to Twitter in an apparent defense of burkini bans, calling their namesake — the burqa — an outfit that portrays “the woman as [an] object of lust, a subject and not an agent of history.”

Photo credit: AFP/stringer/Getty Images

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