France and the Burkini Issue

Posted on December 12, 2016 by


Recently, France experienced many attacks from a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Many people have been killed in these attacks that have created disorder in the country. The action that ISIS did in France and around the world made the image of the Islamic religion appear violent, not peaceful, and made Muslims out to be terrors, which made many countries around the world make laws against Islamic and Muslim traditions. France had a negative reaction and made laws against Muslims. After many attacks by ISIS in different cities in France, the government started to develop many new laws. One of the laws is about forbidding swimwear, the burkini, worn by Muslim women; this is now clearly illegal. In April 2011, France became the first country in Europe to ban wearing the burqa and the burkini. The news of this ban on the burkini made it to headlines around the world because of the ban violation on the rights of Mulsim women to practice modesty and faith in public. Thousands of women across the world demonstrated against the new ruling; however, France did not move or try to fix any of the laws that were made. In contrast, many European people and countries supported the laws made by the government. This put the issue of the burkini to be between whether you can or cannot wear it at the public beach. In my essay, I am going to focus on the reasons that caused the burkini to be prohibited in France, the definition of the burkini, the meaning of the burkini for Muslim women, and the reaction of people about the French law.

What is the Burkini and Why are People Talking About it?

According to a few sources, they define the burkini as a type of swimming costume that some Muslim women wear. It covers all the parts of the body: arms, legs, and hair. The exceptions are: hands, face and feet. For some Muslims, wearing this costume is considered a sign of modesty and faith. The burkini got it’s name from a mix of the two words “Burqa”, it is a type of Islamic clothing, and “bikini”, it is common European clothes for the beach. For some sources such as CNN, New York Times and The daily signal, they called the burkini as a swimsuit for Muslim women. Overall, all sources define the burkini the same.


Muslim women are wearing the burkini costume and running on the beach (Zanetti).

Lately, people are talking about the burkini, because more than 30 French towns have banned the burkini (Bittermann et al) and are preventing Muslim women from wearing it on public beaches or at the sea. If they break the law, they will get a ticket, then they are required to pay a fine and it is about 205 dollars or they could do public service duties (Ansari). That is because religion in France should not be shown in public and it is supposed to be totally disconnected from the public life. Moreover, the burkini is considered visible provocation in public in France.

Why has the Burkini Ban Been Implemented?

Authorities in several cities and communities in France have implemented bans on the burkini, each providing somewhat different reasons. One reason that it is not respectful, morally good, and secular. The first French city to announce that the burkini is prohibited is Cannes. According to the city mayor, David Lisnard, he claimed that burkini is a “symbol of Islamic extremism” and are “not respectful of good morals and secularism” (Dearden). Also, he wanted to prohibit the beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious connection (Cockburn), while France and places of religion are very significant targets of terror attacks, to avoid the trouble and disorder in the public. Also, Muslim women who do not follow the rules would be barred from visiting the beach (dearden).

The second city that announced the burkini to be band was Villeneuve Loubet. The Mayor of that city, Lionnel Luca, said: “The prohibition of full body swimsuits worn by some Muslim women was for sanitary reasons,” [and] “I considered that unacceptable for hygienic reasons and unwelcome given the general situation.” The claim that Luce made is not strong and persuasive to make a law to prevent Muslim women from wearing the burkini because: the burkini almost cover all part of the body and that help to protect the skin from the sunshine; and it suppresses individually and identity.


A sign informs visitors that the burkinis are not allowed to wear at a swimming pool in France (Kirk).

The burkini is a symbol of modesty and faith for Muslim women, but for the French government it considers not respectful of good morals and secularism, and a sign of terrorism.The prohibition of the burkini swimsuit in more than 30 cities in France was a consequence of that anti-Islamic sentiment.

 How have People Reacted Toward Prohibited the Burkini on the Beach in France?

According to the sources, people have reacted toward the burkini in two ways: people support the French law believing it should be banned and other people who believe women have the right and the freedom to wear anything they want to.

According to CNN and Independent, Many people say it is right for the burkini to be banned because it goes against the law and values in France’s communities. Also, the burkini a way to show inequality between men and women in the Islamic religion, so the French government determined they should not wear it. The women do not have the freedom to wear anything they want, and freedom like this should not be restrict to men, religion, and the place where they live (Ghitis).

In contrast, According to BBC, many people’s opinion is the French government should not tell the women what clothes they can and cannot wear; women should have the right to choose anything that they would like to wear, a burkini or not. Also, the French government’s actions against women on the beach to take their burkini off is completely against the right of freedom, and the government should not have the right to do so. Moreover, if the burkini is a symbol of their religion then they have the right to wear it, if it does not harm anyone.

Overall, most sources show that France was racism about passing a law that banned the burkini. There was widespread condemnation over the simple images of a kneeling woman taking off her burkini while surrounded by three French police officers in Nice beach, they are standing around her prepared with guns. These images of French police officers force Muslim women on the beach to take part of their clothes off took attention from many people around the world and there was a hashtag #WTFFRANCE outrage spread around the world. The actions of French government that had done against Islam and Muslim women is completely against the term of the “freedom”.

Works Cited 

Ansari, Azadeh. “Businessman Pays Fines for Women in French Burkini Ban.” CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Aug. 2016, Accessed 3 Dec. 2016

Bittermann, Jim, Sheena McKenzie, and Catherine E. Shoichet. “French Court Suspends Burkini Ban.” CNN. Cable News Network, 26 Aug. 2016, Accessed 6 Dec. 2016

Cockburn, Harry. “Burkinis Banned on French Riviera – to Make People Safer.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 12 Aug. 2016, Accessed 3 Dec. 2016

Dearden, Lizzie. “Burkini Ban: Why Is France Arresting Muslim Women for Wearing Full-body Swimwear and Why Are People so Angry?” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 24 Aug. 2016, Accessed 4 Dec. 2016

Dearden, Lizzie. “Burkini Ban: Second French Riviera Resort Follows Cannes as Mayor Calls Muslim Beachwear ‘unwelcome'” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 13 Aug. 2016, Accessed 3 Dec. 2016

Ghitis, Frida. “France Wrong on Burkini Ban.” CNN. Cable News Network, 26 Aug. 2016, Accessed 5 Dec. 2016

Harkness, Kelsey. “What’s Behind the French Burkini Ban.” The Daily Signal. 01 Sept. 2016, Accessed 4 Dec. 2016

Kirk, Mimi. “The Real Story Behind Cannes Banning the Burkini.” CityLab. 15 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Dec. 2016, Accessed 3 Dec. 2016

Lillie Dremeaux, “‘The Way People Look at Us Has Changed’: Muslim Women on Life in Europe”, The New York Times, 9/2/2016, Accessed 3 Dec. 2016

Rubin, Alissa J. “Fighting for the ‘Soul of France,’ More Towns Ban a Bathing Suit: The Burkini.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Aug. 2016., Accessed 4 Dec. 2016

Smale, Alison. “Germany, Like France, Questions Place of Islamic Veils in Its Society.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Aug. 2016, Accessed 7 Dec. 2016

Unknown author.”What Is a Burkini and Why Are People Talking about It? – CBBC Newsround.” BBC News. BBC, 25 Aug. 2016, Accessed 11 Dec. 2016

Zanetti, Aheda. “I Created the Burkini to Give Women Freedom, Not to Take It Away.” The Guardian. 24 Aug. 2016, Accessed 11 Dec. 2016

Posted in: Islam