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By
AFP
Published
Aug 20, 2009
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Italian city bars Muslim 'burqini' swimsuit

By
AFP
Published
Aug 20, 2009

ROME (AFP)— The anti-immigration mayor of a northern Italian city has barred Muslim women from wearing the controversial body-concealing swimsuit known as a burqini, a report said Wednesday 19 August.


Photo: AFP

Women wearing the garment made up of a veil, a tunic and loose leggings face a fine of 500 euros (700 dollars) if spotted at swimming pools or riversides in the northern Piedmont town of Varallo Sesia, the ANSA news agency reported.

"The sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene," mayor Gianluca Buonanno was quoted as saying.

"We don't have to be tolerant all the time," he said.

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 lawmakers 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.

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