Aus­tralian faces burkini anger in France


Malta Independent - - WORLD -

A Mus­lim woman from Aus­tralia has told how she was forced to leave a beach in France for wear­ing a burkini.

Zeynab Al­shelh, a 23-year-old med­i­cal stu­dent, told Aus­tralian me­dia she had trav­elled to Europe to show sol­i­dar­ity with lo­cal Mus­lim women.

Footage broad­cast on Chan­nel 7 showed lo­cal peo­ple say­ing they would call the po­lice if she didn’t leave.

The ban on burki­nis in sev­eral French Riviera towns was over­ruled in Au­gust by the top ad­min­is­tra­tive court.

Lo­cal may­ors who brought in the laws said the full- body swim­suits were a sym­bol of Is­lam and po­ten­tially provoca­tive af­ter the July ter­ror atroc­ity in Nice.

Ms Al­shelh said she and her fam­ily trav­elled to France to learn more about the sit­u­a­tion and see if there was “any­thing that we can do to help these girls just live a nor­mal life”.

She said she “couldn’t com­pre­hend how it was il­le­gal” to go a pub­lic beach in a burkini.

She went to Vil­leneuve-Lou­bet beach, where the ban had al­ready been over­turned, but “the lo­cals de­cided they didn’t want us there so they told us to leave, and if we didn’t leave they would call the cops”. “We left be­cause we didn’t want to cause any prob­lems The video footage aired on the Chan­nel 7 show Sun­day Night showed a man threat­en­ing to call the po­lice if they did not leave the beach. Other beach­go­ers ges­tured at her or made dis­ap­prov­ing com­ments. Ms Al­shelh said she didn’t feel she had been “in­flam­ma­tory” by go­ing to the beach. She said she “just went as a tourist”. “I looked at the beach and you just want to swim.” Ms Al­shelh had told Chan­nel 7 that the view that Mus­lim women who choose to cover their hair or face are op­pressed was false. “I just find it ridicu­lous,” she said. “It is a sym­bol of my faith, it is a sym­bol of my re­li­gion, it is a sym­bol of Is­lam and to go out there and wear the hi­jab, it helps peo­ple fo­cus on what’s in­side rather than what’s on the out­side.”

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