French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned on Thursday against stigmatising Muslims, as a furore over the banning of burkinis grew with the emergence of pictures showing police surrounding a veiled woman on a beach.
Speaking after a meeting with the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), Cazeneuve said,”The implementation of secularism, and the option of adopting such decrees must not lead to stigmatisation or the creation of hostility between French people.”
Dozens of French towns and villages, mostly on the Cote d’Azur, have banned beachwear that “conspicuously” shows a person’s religion — a measure aimed at the full-body Islamic swimsuit but which has also been used against women wearing long clothes and a headscarf.
CFCM president Anouar Kbibech requested an urgent meeting with Cazeneuve after pictures emerged of a veiled woman sitting on a beach in Nice removing her tunic, watched by four policemen.
The images, which went viral on social media, were interpreted as showing the woman being pressured by police into removing the garment.
This caused huge backlash on social media platforms, where users have been venting there anger against the latest act of French police targeting hijab-clad Muslim women.
Here are some of the reactions.
Is this laïcité? Is this what being liberal looks like? Men forcing women to take clothes off? https://t.co/NOT4IcvuF5
— Aisha S Gani (@aishagani) August 23, 2016
Shocking actions: French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban https://t.co/0RrOeWaErl
— Nicola Smith (@niccijsmith) August 24, 2016
Police in the French city of Nice force a Muslim woman to remove a 'burkini' pic.twitter.com/Vm1AAtv7zn
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) August 24, 2016
— Feminism in India (@FeminismInIndia) August 24, 2016
Sadistic people. How can 'enforcing', 'banning' be called liberty, freedom, secularism. What nonsense, France? https://t.co/Dul4I0CUX4
— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) August 24, 2016
Forcing a woman to remove her cover is as bad as forcing a woman into a cover: In both cases there is no choice: https://t.co/v6Ca60KJCh
— Sharmeen Obaid (@sharmeenochinoy) August 24, 2016
Now France has its own Mutaween, parading around and deciding what women can and cannot wear in public. https://t.co/ijYNeJxCrF
— Patrick French (@PatrickFrench) August 24, 2016