Police Surround Woman at French Beach, Force Her to Remove Her Burkini

In Nice, France on Tuesday, four male police officers clothed in bulletproof vests were photographed surrounding a woman on the beach as they forced her to remove items of clothing. Unfortunately, you didn’t just misread that sentence. Technically the woman, who was wearing a beach-appropriate hijab that covers the body and head and is known as a burkini, was breaking the law.

Nice is one of 15 towns in France that have banned the burkini in recent weeks. Following recent acts of terrorism in France, including the horrific truck massacre in Nice, the controversial ban is the latest measure implemented by French authorities to attempt to curb religious extremism. The ban and the images that have emerged are sparking a fierce international debate.

The official response by French authorities, as reported by the Guardian, states that the burkini “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.”

The woman was confronted on a beach near the Promenade des Anglais, where last month’s tragic Bastille Day lorry attack occurred. In direct response to that attack and other incidents that have occurred across France, the burkini ban represents an attempt to promote secularism. Reaction to the ban has been swift.

A recent tribunal held in Nice to address the matter stood by the ban. The measure was described by the tribunal as a “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” response to jihadi attacks, given that the burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach.”

The Human Rights League, a French NGO, has since appealed this decision and will take the matter to the state council, the highest administrative court in France later this week. The council will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether the ban is upheld.

The images of the woman in Nice have gone viral. They’re sure to do wonders for promoting “secularism.”

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