A woman who wore a burkini to swim in a pool in southern France has been charged €490 ($580) to pay for cleaning costs at the facility. The incident, which sparked accusations of Islamophobia, is the latest salvo in an ongoing debate over Islamic dress codes in France and other secular European states.
Those in favor of the burkini argue that women should be allowed to wear whatever they choose. Critics of the garment say it is a religious and political symbol which impedes integration and is incompatible with the liberal principles of secularism and gender equality. In recent months, the debate has added another dimension: public health and hygiene.
The woman was vacationing with her family at a bed and breakfast near Marseille when the owner spotted her in the swimming pool wearing a full-body swimsuit, according to the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). He subsequently had the pool emptied and cleaned and charged the family for the costs and compensation for the days the pool was out of service. When they refused to pay, the owner allegedly charged them anyway.
The woman reported the incident to the CCIF, which said the burkini could not have caused a hygiene issue as the swimsuits are specifically adapted for swimming. “I was disappointed, shocked, wounded by the fact that someone could be so hypocritical and wicked because of a burkini,” the woman said.
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