The Age (Melbourne), August 20, 2009
The anti-immigration mayor of a northern Italian city has barred Muslim women from wearing the controversial body-concealing swimsuit known as a burqini, an Italian newsagency has reported.
Women wearing the garment made up of a veil, a tunic and loose leggings face a fine of 500 euros ($850) if spotted at swimming pools or riversides in the northern Piedmont town of Varallo Sesia, the ANSA news agency said.
“The sight of a ‘masked woman’ could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene,” mayor Gianluca Buonanno was quoted as saying.
Aussie burqini inventor says she was not surprised that a French woman was banned from her local swimming pool for wearing a full-cover swimsuit.
“We don’t have to be tolerant all the time.”
Justifying the move, Buonanno added: “Imagine a Western woman bathing in a bikini in a Muslim country. The consequences could be decapitation, prison or deportation. We are merely prohibiting the use of the burqini”.
Last week, a swimming pool in Paris refused entry to a burqini-clad Muslim on similar grounds, adding to tensions over Muslim dress in France.
The incident came as French MPs conducted hearings on whether to ban the burqa after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the head-to-toe body covering and veil was “not welcome” in France, home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority.
Buonanno belongs to Italy’s Northern League, a party allied with the centre-right People of Freedom led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
It has backed several initiatives hostile to Muslims.