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Muslim Women Are Being Discriminated Against Just For Covering Up at the Beach

Recently, stories have surfaced of women facing discrimination for wearing hijabs and burkinis at French beaches.

David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes, has issued a ban on burkinis—swimsuits popular with Muslim women because they cover the entire body. He also issued a statement proving that this policy is based soley on discrimination against people’s religions and nothing else.

“Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have [bathing apparel] which respects good customs and secularism.” Lisnard said, according to BuzzFeed News. “Beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order which it is necessary to prevent.”

And though the statement specifically says that religiously affiliated beachwear will not be tolerated, even women who just wear hijabs, or head coverings, are being targeted. One woman was forced out of the water by police as others at the beach additionally taunted her for her religious wear—a hijab, not a beach-specific burkini. She was fined €11 for wearing it.

“I wasn’t there to provoke anyone. I was stunned—racist terms were used freely,” the woman, known only as Siam, said, according to French news magazine L’Obs. “My children were crying, witnessing the humiliation of me and my family. Even I could not help crying. They humiliated us.”

Siam’s story is just one of many upsetting tales of discrimination since Cannes and other towns across France banned burkinis from their beaches.

Though Siam is wary of going public with her battle against the new orders, she says that this discrimination may only lead to more bans for religious attire.

“Today we are forbidden from the beach,” she said according to the BBC. “Tomorrow, the street?”

Lauren Grimaldi is a political science student minoring in journalism at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She was a staff reporter on her college newspaper, the Roosevelt Torch, for the past two years, and will enter into her third year of college as the Managing Editor of the paper. Lauren also writes for Study Breaks, an online college magazine that features student writers from across the nation. In the future, she hopes to work as a political reporter to bring the most important news on government and policy to the public. While she loves reporting political news, her favorite articles to write by far are political op-eds. Outside of politics, her interests include comedy, baseball, hockey, and food. Lauren can be reached at laurengrimaldi@hercampus.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LaurenGrimaldi1.