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)
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.”

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

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.