Posted on September 27, 2016

‘It Was a Set Up’ TV Channel Accused of Staging Burkini-Clad Woman’s Clash with Locals

Lizzie Stromme, Express, September, 26, 2016

An Australian TV channel has been accused of staging a clash between a burkini-clad woman and French locals.

In a Channel 7 documentary, Zeynab Alshelh was filmed wearing the controversial clothing on the French Riviera.

On the news programme Sunday Night, Ms Alshelh claimed she was confronted and reportedly threatened by angry beachgoers.

She said: “We were threatened by locals to leave the beach and if we didn’t they were going to call the police.

“They weren’t happy with us being there, even though it was on the beach that the burkini ban was overturned but the locals were not happy.

“There shouldn’t be a connection between terrorism and the burkini and there shouldn’t be a connection between terrorism and Islam altogether.”

One elderly woman was also filmed giving the camera a “thumbs down” while a male approached the camera and said: ”You can turn around and leave.”

During the programme medical student Ms Alshelh, from Sydney, added she began wearing the hijab when she was 10.

After several French towns decided to enforce a burkini ban following the Nice attacks in July, Ms Alshelh decided to visit the country as a gesture to other Muslims. And as the 23-year-old was pictured on the beach, a narrator said: “No sooner had they set foot on the French beach than they got a lesson in just how hostile the locals can be towards Muslims.”However an investigation by French newspaper Nice Matin has claimed the whole row was staged. One witness the paper spoke with said the man who asked them to leave was actually talking to the film crew, not the burkini-clad women.The French woman said: “Yes, he called the police, but not to get them to chase these people away; instead it was to ask how he could stop them from filming us, and especially our children.”At no point did anyone come and demand these people leave the beach.”Other witnesses the French publication spoke with said the whole incident “smelled of a set up”, and that the crew had attempted to use hidden cameras to get footage.

The programme’s executive producer Hamish Thompson has “denied emphatically” that there was any set up.

He said: “Zeynab was bathing at a beach where the burkini is allowed.

“She sat with her family, away from other bathers, on the beach, where she and her family wanted to swim.

“Our crew positioned themselves on the edge of the beach, in full view of everyone. No hidden cameras were used, at any time.”