A Guardian reader has made an intriguing case for why suits should be banned instead of burkinis based on the amount of harm caused to him by people wearing both types of attire.
Prompted by the recent pictures from France of police enforcing the burkini ban by making a woman de-robe on a beach in public, Henry Stewart drew a comparison between the incident, and the harm caused by men in suits - such as the financial crash and Iraq War.
The letter reads:
No woman in a burqa (or a hijab or a burkini) has ever done me any harm. But I was sacked (without explanation) by a man in a suit. Men in suits missold me pensions and endowments, costing me thousands of pounds. A man in a suit led us on a disastrous and illegal war. Men in suits led the banks and crashed the world economy. Other men in suits then increased the misery to millions through austerity. If we are to start telling people what to wear, maybe we should ban suits.
A Facebook post displaying the text by the George Elliott foundation, which claims to “lampoon bigotry and spread good will”, has been shared over 4,000 times.
And prompted a lively debate with equal numbers of people agreeing and disagreeing with its sentiments.
The images of police making a woman take off her bikini were taken in Nice last week, the scene of a deadly Islamic extremist truck attack in July that killed 86 people.
The resort is one of a dozen in France that has imposed the ban over the summer months, with violators risking a £32 fine.
But the spectacle of a lone woman sitting in the sand as four armed men dressed in black loom over her has struck a nerve, with many drawing comparisons with a nun’s habit:
France’s burkini ban has since been overturned by the country’s top administrative court.
The ruling by the Council of State specifically concerns a ban in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, but the binding decision is expected to set a legal precedent for all the 30 or so French resort municipalities that have issued similar decrees.
Lawyers for two human rights groups challenged the legality of the ban to the top court, saying the orders infringe basic freedoms and that mayors have overstepped their powers by telling women what to wear on beaches, The Associated Press reported.
Lawyer Patrice Spinosi, representing the Human Rights League, told reporters that the decision should set a precedent, and that other mayors should conform to it. He also said women who have already received fines can protest them based on Friday’s decision.
Spinosi said: “It is a decision that is meant to set legal precedent,” he said. “Today all the ordinances taken should conform to the decision of the Council of State. Logically the mayors should withdraw these ordinances. If not legal actions could be taken” against those towns.
“Today the state of law is that these ordinances are not justified. They violate fundamental liberties and they should be withdrawn.”