The Lebanese-Australian designer Aheda Zanetti must be laughing all the way to her bank at the free publicity generated by the furore in France over her all-in-one burkini.

I’m old enough to recall Spain’s notorious Guardia Civile patrolling beaches for bikinis in Franco’s Spain. Policia were also active in issuing a fine to any woman caught wearing this “daring garment” in fifties Italy.

Burkini POlice

So the act of gendarmes requiring  a Muslim woman peel off on a Riviera beach has several precedents. Except in the intervening decades, the reasoning has become more sinister.

Wearing a burkini is an act of defiance in a secular society said the French High Court, before quickly overturning the ban in August.


Whether the frog-like garment is a religious statement, or simply Muslim men exercising control over a woman is a moot question. Visually if you don’t cover up, you’re a slut.


If the latter, it is time Muslim women stood up to this bullying since not only is the burkini ugly, it must be damned unpleasant when grains of sand creep inside.

Nice bathers

In a democracy, everyone –  men as well as women – has the right to wear their clothing of choice.

Muslim woman wearing niqab Oman

On the other hand, it is true to say that the niqab worn by increasing numbers of Muslim women is offensive in western society where people feel uncomfortable communicating with a faceless person.

So I say ban the niqab in public places, but allow the burkini to swim in peace.

A Muslim woman wears a burkini, a swimsuit that leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, as she swims in the Mediterranean Sea in Marseille, France, August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Islamophobia takes it’s toll on French beaches