Burkini ban: France threatens legal action against social media users for sharing photos of police enforcing law

‘I am denouncing a manipulation that undermines the local police,’ French official says

Harriet Agerholm
Thursday 25 August 2016 17:29
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Armed police in Nice forced a woman on a beach to remove her burkini, sparking outrage online
Armed police in Nice forced a woman on a beach to remove her burkini, sparking outrage online

A French politician is threatening legal action against social media users for sharing photos of police enforcing a ban on the burkini.

Christian Estrosi, the President of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, a region where the full body swimwear is prohibited, said official complaints had been filed about the distribution of the pictures of the police officers. He added the officials were just "doing their job".

Photographs of one incident where at least four armed police officers confronted a woman on a beach, reportedly fined her and made her remove clothing attracted widespread criticism on social media.

Another video circulated showed a woman being forced from the water by a policeman, although she was wearing a hijab and not a burkini.

Many have said the burkini ban is an act of islamophobia, misogyny and an attack on freedom of expression.

In response to the backlash, the right-wing politician said in a statement: “I am denouncing what seems like a manipulation that undermines the local police, and puts the officers at risk.

Video shows French women being ordered out of sea for wearing burkini

"Already, complaints were filed to prosecute those who spread the photographs of our municipal police officers and those uttering threats against them on social networks,” he said.

In the days since the controversial ban came into force, 24 women have been fined.

The former mayor of Nice has been a vocal supporter of the Burkini ban, which was implemented after an attack on the city on Bastille day that killed 84 people.

In a statement after the law was introduced in many French towns, Mr Estrosi said the wearing of the modest clothing "undermines" French values.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith has asked for urgent talks with the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, because of “growing fear of stigmatisation of Muslims in France”.

The ban has ignited fierce political debate, with members of the ruling Socialist party and the Green part condemning the ban.

On Thursday a bid to overturn the ban will come before the highest administrative court in France.

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