Muslim women express fear over burkini bans in France

NICE, France -- A French court is expected to rule Friday on the “burkini,” a full-body bathing suit worn by some Muslim women. More than a dozen French cities have banned the burkini, calling it a religious display that is not compatible with French values.

Nice is one of the cities that banned the burkini after last month’s terror attack by an ISIS-inspired militant​, reports CBS News’ Debora Patta.

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Italian tourist Amal told CBS News she’s afraid to wear her burkini in Nice.   

CBS News

The glamorous French Riviera there is the place to see and be seen -- but not for Italian tourist Amal. She took snapshots of her family from the promenade instead of on the beach. She was afraid of being caught by police if she wore her burkini. 

“I can’t go to the beach with my children,” she told us, “I’m here by the sea but can’t go in it.”
 
Police can fine any woman wearing a burkini, or force her to disrobe -- as they did earlier this week, surrounding a woman and ordering her to remove her tunic.

Deputy Mayor Rudy Salles says wearing a burkini is a provocation.

“How is banning the burkini going to make Nice more secure?” Patta asked him.

“The feeling of the people is very important,” Salles said. “If you see [an] Islamist, or something looking like Islamist on the beach, on the street, everywhere -- you don’t feel safe. And so we have rules.”

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A woman wears a burkini on the beach in Nice.

CBS News


He claims the ban has overwhelming support, but many beach-goers cannot understand what the fuss is all about.
 
One woman, a Muslim who chooses not to cover up, told CBS News she still feels targeted by the ban. “I think people should be free to do what they want,” she said. “I don’t see why it should bother anyone.”
 
The ban has sparked huge controversy​. Which is perhaps why, when we were watching the police and two women arrived in burkinis, they did nothing.

The French municipalities that have banned the burkini say it oppresses women, and as a religious symbol, has no place in this fiercely secular country.