Europe

Italian bishop criticizes French ban on 'burkini'

Secretary of Italian Bishops Conference says religious symbols should be used freely

Ahmet Sait Akçay   | 18.08.2016
Italian bishop criticizes French ban on 'burkini'

Ankara

By Baris Seckin

ROME

A top Italian bishop said Thursday that women wearing a full-body Islamic swimsuit cannot be seen as a potential threat.

In an interview published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Secretary of Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) Nunzio Galantino commented on the recent French ban on so-called burkini, saying “We should learn to live together. This means acknowledging and embracing the symbols of other cultures as long as they do not harm security requirements."

"The fear around Islamic clothing seems to be exploited for political ends," he added.

Galantino went on to say that everybody had the right to dress in a way that demonstrated their religious faith, and stressed the importance of showing "common sense".

"It is very unlikely for a woman going into the water to be on the brink of carrying out an attack," he said.

Meanwhile, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told RTL on Thursday that Italy was always guided by common sense, and stayed away from any provocation that could cause violent reactions.

More than six mayors of French resort towns have banned the swimsuit since last week. Under the decrees that run until Aug. 31, ‘violators’ will have to pay fines of 38 euros ($43).

A court in Nice has upheld the local municipality’s decision first taken by Cannes’ mayor. However, the final word rests with the French Council of State -- the country’s highest court -- which is expected to rule on Thursday.

Amid the strong condemnation by Muslims and rights groups which consider the bans a violation of personal liberties and a threat to social cohesion, ‘Burkini-gate’ is grabbing more headlines.

*Ahmet Sait Akcay contributed to this story from Ankara.

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