The film star Isabelle Adjani has condemned burkini bans in 23 French resorts as ridiculous and dangerous, arguing that they play into the hands of Islamists and the far-Right.
I am always uneasy when we try to impose liberty by banning things, she said. We can’t forbid women from going to the beach because of a costume, even if it is rightly seen as neo-fundamentalist, backward and shocking.
Placing herself at odds with politicians on the Right and the Left, Adjani, 61, one of France’s most acclaimed actresses and the daughter of an Algerian Muslim immigrant, told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche: I find the heated political debate over the burkini both ridiculous and dangerous.
With the nation on edge after a series of terrorist attacks, mainstream politicians on the Left and Right are taking a tough line on the burkini, alarmed by the rising popularity of the far-Right Front National ahead of presidential elections next year.
The latest resort to ban the burkini was Nice, where the Bastille Day massacre of 86 people exacerbated tensions with local Muslims.
The prime minister, Manuel Valls, said the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women was not just a swimwear fashion but the translation of a political project, a counter-society based on the enslavement of women.
A controversial Algerian businessman and political activist based in France has offered to pay fines imposed on women who wear the burkini on French beaches.
Rachid Nekkaz, a wealthy entrepreneur who grew up in a rundown Paris suburb, has already forked out more than £200,000 in fines and legal fees levied on Muslim women for defying bans on wearing veils in France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Nekkaz, 44, whose French-Canadian wife, Cécile Le Roux, does not wear the veil, said he personally opposes the burkini and the niqab, but fervently supports the right to wear them.
As soon as I see that France is not respecting fundamental liberties, I always get my cheque book out, he said.
However, Mr Nekkaz has been accused of exploiting the veil ban to seek publicity to raise his political profile. He attempted to contest the French presidency in 2007 and 2012 but failed to muster enough support to stand.
He renounced his French citizenship in 2013 to try to run for president in Algeria.
Mr Nekkaz was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and a €5,000 fine in 2013 after being convicted of attempting to buy a sponsorship required under French law for presidential candidates. In his defence, he claimed he was trying to demonstrate the fragility of the French electoral system.
News Source TelegraphNews