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14-Feb-2016 02:45

And how’s this for more freedom: the deputy Mayor of Nice has threatened to sue social media users who share photos of burkini fines, saying they "provoke defamatory remarks".

What’s next, prosecuting the photographers who took the pictures of women being forced to undress by police?

If Muslims are being offended and provoked by cartoonists or satirists, commentators are quick to say they must get used to it. But when will the French public get used to being offended too?

A French magazine reported earlier this week that a former flight attendant from Tolouse, relaxing on the beach in Cannes, was abruptly asked by the police to remove her headscarf.

She wasn’t wearing a full burkini, just a headscarf. Egged on by the continuing spectacle some onlookers told her to “go home”, even though her family had been in France for three generations.

The burkini wasn’t even intended to provoke; it was created by an Australian woman to “make sure we blended in with the Australian lifestyle”.

I can fully imagine many older Asian women, non-Muslims, opting for the same garment out of an ingrained sense of modesty. It’s the duty to French politicians to stand firm by their self-professed principles, not ditch them in the face of a populist mob.

The Deputy Mayor of Nice told the BBC’s World at One today: "When you see a burkini on the beach, people feel unsafe".

Whether or not people feel unsafe over a slightly modest piece of clothing is besides the point - they should have no right to impose their prejudices on others.

Despite angry crowds, François Hollande defiantly declared: “We've seen the protests, and I would say that in France all beliefs are respected. in particular freedom of expression." That wasn’t a response to the ‘ If there was any doubt that French belief in freedom of expression is wholly one-sided, it has surely vanished now.

After being banned in Cannes - where no women were found wearing one - the “burkini” ban has now spread to 15 towns and cities across France.Even more so, the bans are a boon to Islamists who say the French state has one rule for Muslims and another for the rest. That only an Islamic caliphate can offer them true freedom.

Elliot Luber is a visiting assistant professor of business, management, and leadership at SUNY Empire State College's School for Graduate Studies.… continue reading »

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