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Cannes bans 'burkini' from French Riviera beaches

August 12, 2016

Cannes has issued an ordinance barring beachwear which doesn't display "good morals and secularism." Defending the ban, a French official has said burkini-style swimsuits could be linked to terrorism.

Australien Frau mit Burkini am Strand von Sydney
Image: Getty Images/M. King

Cannes Mayor David Lisnard signed off on an ordinance forbidding the use of full-body, head-covering swimsuits sometimes worn by Muslim women, officials announced on Thursday. Lisnard is a member of the center-right Republican party, until recently known as the UMP.

The ruling says that access to beaches is banned for those who do not have swimwear "which respects good morals and secularism."

The ordinance cited safety concerns as a reason for forbidding certain swimwear from the French Riviera beaches.

It noted that "beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order, which it is necessary to prevent."

A Cannes official said the ordinance was in effect for August and that violators risked a 38-euro ($42) fine.

Deutschland - Mädchen in Burkini
French officials said the bathing suits could "disrupt public order" on beachesImage: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Haid

Bathing suit 'refers to terrorist allegiance'

In an effort to clarify the intent of the ruling over the so-called "burkini," the head of municipal services in Cannes said that wearing religious symbols on beaches is not banned.

Rather, the new rules refers to "ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us," said municipal head Thierry Migoule.

France is still reeling from a series of terrorist attacks, two of which occurred this summer. A priest was killed on July 26 in northwest France by two attackers who pledged allegiance to the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) group.

The French Riviera city of Nice was also the target of an attack on July 14, when a man drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day. The attack killed 85 people and was claimed by IS.

France has already banned the use of full-face veils in public places, but does not bar people from wearing religious clothing or symbols.

rs/msh (AP, AFP)