Images of armed police forcing a woman on a beach in Nice to remove her clothing really rammed home the dark absurdity of the country's burkini ban. On Friday, France's highest court struck down the ban, suspending it from Villeneuve-Loubet, and setting a precedent for the additional 23 coastal towns where it's now in place.
The initial ban in Cannes was justified by the head of municipal services, who said the burka is "ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements," while the mayor weirdly said it's "unhygienic" to swim fully clothed. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy waded into the debate, calling wearing bukinis a "provocation" that supports radical Islam.
According to a survey in Le Figaro, a majority of French people oppose the wearing of the burkini on beaches—64 percent favor the bans, while 30 percent give the ruling a shrug of indifference.
Outside the French embassy in London on Thursday, a women-only protest was making a bit more sense than the fashion police on the Riviera. Promoting the hashtag #wearwhatyouwant, they set up a little beach outside the building. There was sand, deck chairs, pool floaties, and people in all sorts of beach wear—which means everything form bikinis to full-cover clothing. We sent a VICE photographer down to check it out.
Words by Mac Hackett
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