Recently, stories have surfaced of women facing discrimination for wearing hijabs and burkinis at French beaches.
David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes, has issued a ban on burkinis—swimsuits popular with Muslim women because they cover the entire body. He also issued a statement proving that this policy is based soley on discrimination against people's religions and nothing else.
“Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have [bathing apparel] which respects good customs and secularism.” Lisnard said, according to BuzzFeed News. “Beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order which it is necessary to prevent.”
And though the statement specifically says that religiously affiliated beachwear will not be tolerated, even women who just wear hijabs, or head coverings, are being targeted. One woman was forced out of the water by police as others at the beach additionally taunted her for her religious wear—a hijab, not a beach-specific burkini. She was fined €11 for wearing it.
“I wasn’t there to provoke anyone. I was stunned—racist terms were used freely,” the woman, known only as Siam, said, according to French news magazine L’Obs. “My children were crying, witnessing the humiliation of me and my family. Even I could not help crying. They humiliated us.”
Siam’s story is just one of many upsetting tales of discrimination since Cannes and other towns across France banned burkinis from their beaches.
Though Siam is wary of going public with her battle against the new orders, she says that this discrimination may only lead to more bans for religious attire.
"Today we are forbidden from the beach,” she said according to the BBC. "Tomorrow, the street?”