It’s a French woman’s duty to wear a bikini, says ex-minister

Islamophobia row as Sarkozy supporter hits out at Muslim on beach in headscarf

Paris

It is a French woman’s duty to wear a bikini on a beach, says the former minister for families, Nadine Morano.

Ms Morano, 51, has provoked a political row by complaining that she had seen a Muslim woman sitting on a French beach in headscarf, long-sleeved tunic and trousers while her husband stripped off and bathed in the sea.

“When you choose to come to a country of secular laws like France, you have an obligation to respect our culture and the liberty of women. Or you go somewhere else,” Ms Morano wrote on her Facebook page.

She published a blurred picture that she had taken at the weekend of the woman in the headscarf sitting on a beach. Alongside, she published a photograph of the 1950s and 1960s sex symbol Brigitte Bardot wearing a bikini.

The picture taken by Nadine Morano: of a woman in a headscarf sitting on a beach The picture taken by Nadine Morano: of a woman in a headscarf sitting on a beach Ms Morano is a centre-right politician, and fervent supporter of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been accused of exploiting far-right themes in the past.  Her remarks provoked an avalanche of comments on social media and reactions from politicians which sometimes crossed normal party boundaries.

The former leader of the Socialist party, Harlem Désir, said that Ms Morano “had a point”. A beach should, he said, be a place of liberty for all, he said. Another centre-right former minister, Valérie Pécresse, criticised Ms Morano’s definition of “freedom”. “As long as they’re not breaking the law, people should be allowed to wear whatever they want,” she said.

The Communist politician Ian Brossat said it was clear that “xenophobia never goes on holiday, even on the beach”.

Ms Morano said that she had witnessed the incident at an unnamed French resort.

“The man got into his swimming trunks, showing off his well-made body, while she sat quietly on the sand dressed from head to toe,” she wrote. “He went off alone towards the sea. Delighted to be having a swim, he waved to his submissive companion as she sat entirely surrounded by people in swimsuits.

“He had the right to strip off and swim, She didn’t. To see that in the country which invented human rights was exasperating!”

One blogger, Fouzia Rakza Bouzaoui, said that Ms Morano should “worry about the 20,000 sexual assaults in France every year (that’s only the number reported) rather than talking about the submission of a woman she does not even know and who might have made this choice herself.”

Reactions in the comments section of the photo on Facebook have been mixed, with some questioning why Ms Morano felt the need to post the image in the first place.

Seby Vergara, orginally writing in French, said: "What shocks me is not this photo. It is that this 'politician' is permitted to post [this image] of an innocent woman. Without a doubt the mother of a family/a citizen. What gives her the right to judge?"

He added: "I am French myself and when I go to Morocco I see French people going topless by the swimming pool," suggesting that he believed Ms Morano was being hypocritical by demanding that immigrants have "an obligation to respect [French] culture". 

The president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia, Abdallah Zekri, said that Ms Morano was playing on the confusion between Islamic headscarves and full-length veils like burkas. Both are referred to by the same word, voile. Only full-length veils which obscure the face are banned under French law. “How is wearing a headscarf on a beach not respecting the laws of the Republic?” he asked. 

Ms Morano is one of a group of politicians in the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire who have been accused of trying to resist the rise of Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National by borrowing – or even outdoing – their anti-Islamic rhetoric.

In a radio interview she insisted that she was making an argument for women’s rights not an argument against Islam. “We have to help these submissive women,” she said. “There is no point in pulling a veil over our own faces. No religion has the right to impede the progress which has been so dearly won in France.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect