By lauracohn
August 26, 2016

France’s controversial burkini bans have sparked outrage on social media, a spike in sales of the full-body swimsuits, and even a beach party protesting the policy outside the French Embassy in London—complete with deck chairs and sand. Photos of French policemen enforcing the move drew comparisons to 1919, when so-called Sheriffettes monitored the length of women’s bathing suits in Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

But perhaps one of the most insightful pieces on the issue appeared in the Huffington Post, which interviewed a series of British Muslim women. The women, whom you can watch in a clip here, called the policy “Islamophobic,” “sexist,” and “hurtful.” Aheda Zanetti, who invented the burkini back in 2004, sounded a similar note in the Guardian, writing that the purpose of the garment is “to give women freedom, not to take it away.”

The backlash has been so great, rights groups are asking a top court in France to reverse the policy. I side with London mayor Sadiq Khan, a champion of women, who said in an appearance in Paris yesterday, “I’m quite firm on this. I don’t think anyone should tell women what they can and can’t wear.” With the court expected to rule today, we may soon know if France’s legal system agrees.


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