A community group in France’s Marseille is planning on booking out a water park for one day for Muslim women who want to wear “burkinis,” but their decision is already drawing a lot of criticism from France’s right-wing leaders, the BBC reported Thursday.
The event’s organizers, Smile 13, said on the event’s Facebook page that all women attending the event must be covered from the chest to the knees. Women not dressed in the prescribed swimming garment that covers the whole body except the face, hands and feet will not be allowed to enter the park. No men will be allowed to attend the event but boys below the age of ten can. It is scheduled to take place Sept. 17 at the Speedwater Park near Marseille.
But some French politicians criticized the decision, claiming that the move contradicts France’s secular values.
“Accepting this so-called fashion means we accept communalism in our country,” Mayor of two districts in Marseille and member of former President Nicholas Sarkozy’s Les Republicains party Valerie Boyer tweeted.
“However, it's also a question of the woman's dignity, a question of our most fundamental principles,” she added.
Stephane Ravier, another mayor from Marseille and member of the far-right Front National party also attacked the decision, saying, “This Islamist day demonstrates that, outside of the comforting words of Muslim authorities, a certain number of Muslims are deciding among themselves to break away from our Republican model and put themselves outside our society.”
France in 2010 banned Muslims from wearing the full-face veil or niqab with a fine of 150 euros ($167) if found in violation of the ban. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban. There are about five million Muslims living in France, the largest Muslim minority in western Europe.