French Politician Threatens to Sue Social Media Users for Posting Photos of Police Enforcing Burkini Ban

Christian Estrosi, the president of the region that includes Nice, called the posting of the pictures a 'manipulation' that puts the police at risk

Police enforcing a ban on the burkini hovering by woman on Nice beach as she removes a tunic, August 24, 2016.
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Amid continuing controversy over the ban of the burkini, the full-body swimsuit that some Muslim women where for reasons of modesty, a French politician is threatening to take legal action against people who have posted pictures of police enforcing the ban.

Christian Estrosi, the president of Provence-Alpes-Cte d'Azur, a southeastern French region where the full body swimwear is prohibited, is reported to have argued that the police are simply "doing their job," and the British online newspaper The Independent, quoted him as saying: “I am denouncing what seems like a manipulation that undermines the local police, and puts the officers at risk."

The ban was imposed in the region, which includes Nice, where last month, on France's national holiday, Bastille Day, a Tunisian man, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, drove a truck into crowds along the city's seafront, killing 84 people. The ban is subject to a legal challenge pending before the country's highest administrative court, the Council of State.

Speaking to BBC Radio on Thursday, Nice Deputy Mayor Rudy Salles gave his own explanation in support of the ban. "You are in the swimming pool or you are in the beach [sic], now the situation as it is with the terrorism attacks, with the war in the Middle East, with the war against [the ultra-conservative Islamic movement] Salafism, people don’t support it anymore," The Independent reported. "And so when you see a burkini on the beach, people feel unsafe."

The Independent noted one photo in particular that sparked criticism on social media, showing a number of policemen confronting a woman in a Nice beach. They reportedly fined her and demanded that she remove clothing.

Critics say the ban is an infringement of freedom of expression and a reflection of Islamophobia and anti-female sentiment, The Independent noted. But in a statement after the law was introduced in many French towns, Mr Estrosi said the wearing of the modest clothing "undermines" French values.

In the short period since the controversial ban has come into force, 24 women have been fined for violating it, The Independent reported on Thursday.