Socialist Worker

Outrage after armed police enforce French burkini ban

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2518

A woman in a Burkini

A woman in a Burkini


Anti-racists in France and Britain are preparing to protest against the “burkini ban” imposed in 18 localities in France.

The ban targets women who cover up in ways judged “ostentatiously" religious on beaches.

The protests come after armed police forced one woman to remove her burkini in the southern city of Nice yesterday, Tuesday. They then gave her a warning and an on the spot fine.

Siam, a woman in Cannes, was threatened with pepper-spray in front of her crying daughter, fined and ordered off the beach—for simply wearing a headscarf.

People gathered round. Siam said, “The racist abuse was just off the leash.

“I was stunned. I heard things no-one had ever said to my face before. Things like ‘go back home’, ‘Madam, the law is the law—we are sick of this’, ‘Here we are Catholics’.”

Cannes’ Tory mayor David Lisnard said the police were just “doing their job”.

Surged

Since the first “burkini ban” was brought in by the mayor of Cannes last month they have surged to the top of the political agenda.

The clampdown has provoked outrage in France and abroad. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France appealed to overturn one ban, though the court upheld it, and is supporting women who contest their fines.

The New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) is currently holding its summer school in Port Leucate, one of the first towns to bring in a ban. Activists are set to protest there tomorrow, Thursday.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) have called a protest at the French embassy in London on Friday.

The bans are led by the racist hard right of the Tory “Republicans” party (LR). But they simply push further the Islamophobic policies of discrimination pushed by the political mainstream.

Prime minister Manuel Valls—of the centre-left Labour-type Socialist Party (PS)—interrupted his holiday to “support” the mayors. He said, “In the face of provocation, the nation must defend itself”.

But women who choose to cover up at the beach are nothing to do with terrorism. The outrage in Nice took place just metres away from the site of last month’s terrorist attack. A third of its victims were Muslims.

And it is grotesquely surreal to claim that armed cops ordering them to strip are fighting sexism.

The hounding of Muslims in France is fuelling the growth of the fascist Front National and its imitators such as the AfD in Germany. It is essential to take a stand for women’s right to choose and against racist scapegoating and repression.

Emergency demonstration. Friday 26 August, 6pm, French embassy, 58 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7J

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