Burkini ban: UK Muslims enjoy Brighton Beach in full hijab as French women face arrest

'I don't think anyone should tell women what to wear,' says London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Muslim women cool themselves off in the sea at Brighton
Muslim women cool themselves off in the sea at Brighton

British Muslim women wearing their hijabs while paddling in the sea drew a stark contrast to French officers policing their co-religionists' dress over the Channel.

Pictures of Muslim women in dark dresses with headscarves on were captured at Brighton Beach as they and their children enjoyed the waves in the summer heat.

The images contrast powerfully with that of a French Muslim citizen made to undress by four armed police as she lay on the beach.

While beachgoers looked on, the 38-year-old was made to remove her burkini - a swimsuit which covers the body and head - under the watch of four French policeman in accordance with a controversial new ban on the garment in parts of the country.

The photograph of officers armed with handguns, batons and pepper spray standing round as the woman removed a blue headscarf and matching top went viral on social media on 23 August.

When asked what the Muslim Council of Britain thought of the measure, one of its spokepeople said: "The French authorities are in good company: the only other people forcing women to change their clothing at gun point are Daesh [Isis]."

French Riviera resorts Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet, along with Corsica, all currently have the ban in place. French ministers have said the law is in line with the country's historical separation of religion from public life.

And France's previous and ongoing ban on face veils, or the niqab, in public spaces was backed by the European Court of Human Rights two years ago.

The photograph of a woman forced to remove her clothing was met with outrage

But in Brighton, Muslim women are shown wearing their full hijabs while cooling off in the waves at the well-known pebbly beach.

"This is a heartwarming sight on a British beach," said one Twitter user in response to the picture.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan highlighted the right of women to wear what they wished without being told off.

"I'm a proud feminist. I don't think anyone should tell women what to wear," he said, according to ITV reporter Ria Chatterjee.

Laws in the UK enshrine a right to religious freedom and the full face veil is not illegal in public spaces or jobs.

Schools can decide their own dress code, however, and may prevent students from wearing face veils if they so wish. Several German schools have courted controversy by forbidding students from wearing a niqab in class on the grounds that is causes communication problems with teachers.

Brighton is one of the most popular seaside destinations in the UK, with thousands of visitors arriving for any one night in the peak summer season.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in