Photographs have emerged of French police officers as they made a woman remove her "burkini" on a beach in Nice. The ban on the full-body swimsuits worn by some Muslim women has sparked controversy in secular France.
The images, published by British media, were taken on Tuesday in the southern coastal town of Nice. In the photos, armed police officers approach a woman wearing a turquoise outfit as she lies on the town's Promenade des Anglais - the same location as last month's terrorist attack which killed 86 people. The police then apparently proceed to ask the women to remove the "burkini."
The pictures were met with a backlash of criticism on Twitter, where the hashtag #WTFFrance began trending within hours of their publication.
European Media Director of Human Rights Watch Andrew Stoehlein asked: "Question of the day: How many armed policement does it take to force a woman to strip in public?"
"I am so ashamed," wrote French feminist Caroline De Haas.
Cartoonist Khalid Albaih posted a drawing in response to the photos:
On Friday, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini, which is worn by relatively few Muslim women. The city said it bans clothing that "overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the targets of terrorist attacks."
A total of fifteen French towns have banned burkinis, including nearby Cannes, where a mother-of-two was fined on Tuesday for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
The woman's ticket, which was seen by French news agency AFP, stated that she was not wearing "an outfit respecting good morals and secularism."
Three women were also fined 38 euros ($49) earlier this month after wearing the full-body costume.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls came under fire last week for condoning the ban.
"Hiding the face or wearing a full-body costume to go to the beach is not in keeping with our ideal of social relations," Valls said.
Minority wearing burkini
Despite the controversy, burkinis remain a rare sight in France and are worn by a relatively small number of Muslim women.
The French human rights group Human Rights League (LDH) appealed a decision made by a lower court in Nice on Tuesday after they upheld the burkini ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet. A French high court is due to pass a ruling on the ban within the next two weeks.
France has a long history of secularism, but its current regime is based on a 1905 law which separates the state from religion. It was the first European country to ban the Islamic face veil in public in 2010, six years after outlawing the headscarf and other conspicuous religious symbols in state schools, although it is not illegal to wear a headscarf in public.