A French official has warned social media users that they could face legal action if they share images of videos of police in France enforcing 'burkini bans'.
Three municipalities in France have banned the item of clothing, which is designed to act as an alternative to traditional swimwear and covers both the body and head. It is mainly worn by Orthodox Muslim women for religious reasons, but has been outlawed in the likes of Corsica, Cannes and Nice on the basis that it defies French laws on secularism.
On Tuesday (23 August) The Daily Mail published pictures showing armed officers appearing to enforce the ban on a beach in Nice, by apparently asking a woman clad in a modest outfit to "remove" her clothing.
— Ian Fraser (@Ian_Fraser) August 24, 2016
The images have since been widely circulated on social media, but now Christian Estrosi, president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (of which Nice is a part), has warned Twitter users to be wary when sharing such images. The note, which can be seen in full below, read: "Already, complaints were filed to prosecute those who spread the photographs of our municipal police officers and those uttering threats against them on social networks."
Communiqué du premier adjoint au maire de Nice pic.twitter.com/15LikaMScu — jules darmanin (@JulesDrmnn) August 24, 2016
Many Twitter users were irked by the image, and have openly criticised the ban itself.
— Ally (@allyska) August 24, 2016
This is officially banned on #Cannes beaches as a threat. Ridiculous. #France#birkini#auspolpic.twitter.com/1tQiJHhJjO — Sandra K Eckersley (@SandraEckersley) August 13, 2016
— Matthew Ruddle (@RuddleMatthew) August 24, 2016
The introduction of the laws in France have courted widespread debate throughout the country.
On Wednesday evening (24 August) former French president Nicolas Sarkozy said during a television interview that the item of clothing was a "provocation" that supported radicalised Islam, adding that France didn't "imprison women behind fabric."
France's highest court will examine a request from the French Human Rights League on Friday to scrap the burkini bans, with lawyers arguing that the short-term legislation is illegal.