Burkini ban protesters hold beach party outside French embassy in London

Activists protest against bans on full-body bathing suit in many French coastal areas


Demonstrators protest outside the French embassy in London this afternoon | Photo: PA Images

Activists have thrown a beach party outside the French embassy in London to protest against against a controversial burkini ban.

Several dozen women held signs warning against Islamophobia, laid out beach towels and played on sand dumped at the embassy’s entrance.

It comes after several French seaside towns introduced bans on the full-body bathing suit, citing public safety concerns and the need to protect secularist values.

The controversy heightened this week after photos emerged of French policemen appearing to order a woman to remove parts of her clothing on a beach in Nice.

Organisers said the “wear what you want” demonstration was held as a show of solidarity with Muslim women in France.

“Women have the right to WEAR WHATEVER THEY WANT,” they wrote on a Facebook page promoting the event.

The hashtag #WearWhatYouWant also trended as social media users joined the chorus of criticism over the decrees.

France’s highest administrative court is currently examining an appeal against a decision by a lower court to uphold the ban.

Amnesty International has urged the State Council to overturn the policy, saying failure to do so would be a missed opportunity to “end an assault on women’s freedoms of expression and religion”.

“The case being considered offers an opportunity for the French justice system to overturn a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance,” said Colm O’Gorman, the executive director of Amnesty’s Irish branch.

“French authorities should drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women. Rather, invasive and discriminatory measures such as these restrict women’s choices, violate their rights and lead to abuse.”