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A Muslim Woman Was Forced to Remove Her Headscarf at the Beach

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A Muslim woman on a beach in Nice was forced to remove her headscarf because she was breaking the beach’s dress code policy.

The Daily Mail published photos of three French officers apparently approaching the woman, identified only as Siam, in her headscarf taking a nap on the beach. The armed officers allegedly pointed pepper spray at her face until she removed the hijab.

Siam says that did not know about Cannes’ burkini ban. She explains, “I didn’t know exactly what was going on, I hadn’t really followed the controversy.” After she removed her headscarf, Siam faced a nine-pound fine (about $11).

Cannes has been the epicenter for fining women for wearing burkinis. Cannes’ mayor David Lisnard claimed the bathing suits were “manifesting religious affiliation in an ostentatious way.” On August 17, four Muslim women were also fined for wearing their burkinis at the beach in Cannes, The Independent reports.

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While burkinis violate dress code policy, other religious symbols such as the kippah and cross are allowed. 15 towns in southwestern France have outlawed the bathing suit, TIME reports.

Lisnard’s burkini ban was brought to court, but the decision to abolish the bathing suits was upheld. The deciding judge declared that ban was “in the context of the state of emergency and recent Islamist attacks, notably in Nice a month ago,” The Independent reports.

The burkini may be banned in France, but sales are skyrocketing in other parts of the world. TIME reports that Sydney resident and burkini designer Aheda Zanetti has seen a surge in burkini sales—even for non-Muslim women. “Women are standing together on this. It doesn’t matter what race or religion. The support I’m getting is somehow about empowering women.”

One Algerian businessman has said he will pay burkini fines for women charged with them, and other Muslims in southwestern France continue to fight the ban. Siam wonders, “Today we are not allowed on the beach. Tomorrow, the street? Tomorrow, we’ll be forbidden from practicing our religion at all?”

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