’Don’t tell women what to wear’: Sadiq Khan condemns French ’burkini’ ban as he visits Paris
PIPPA CRERAR, Peter Allen
2 hours ago
Sadiq Khan today condemned France’s “burkini ban” as he travelled to Paris to discuss community integration with the city’s mayor.
The Mayor waded into the row after pictures emerged of French armed police apparently fining a woman in a headscarf on a beach in Nice.
France’s supreme court of appeal was today preparing to rule on the burkini ban in several cities and towns.
Mr Khan told the Standard: “I’m quite firm on this. I don’t think anyone should tell women what they can and can’t wear. Full stop. It’s as simple as that.
“I don’t think it’s right. I’m not saying we’re perfect yet, but one of the joys of London is that we don’t simply tolerate difference, we respect it, we embrace it, and we celebrate it.”
France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, will today examine a request by the French Human Rights League to scrap the burkini bans amid fears Muslims are being increasingly stigmatised.
Judges in Nice this week insisted that the ban was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” following the deaths of 86 people in a lorry attack in the city claimed by Islamic State.
They said the burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or non-convictions of other users on the beach”.
But critics point to the fact that 30 Muslims were among the dead in Nice, and that the attack had absolutely nothing to do with swimwear whatsoever.
Mr Khan confirmed that integration and diversity would be high on the agenda during his talks today with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who he suggested was keen to learn from London’s experience.
“Things don’t happen overnight, it’s about shared values and integration. We’ll be talking about how we can use the levers we’ve got to change attitudes,” he said.
The Mayor said it was crucial to “scotch” the school of thought that it was not possible to have Western liberal values and be a mainstream Muslim.
Mr Khan said of Ms Hidalgo: “I know she was impressed on her last visit by the impact that somebody that looks like me, and belongs to the faith I do, might have on some of her constituents.”
Both capital cities faced the problem of people inspired by Daesh or the so-called Islamic State who believed in a “clash of civilisations”, he said, adding that US presidential contender Donald Trump was “playing into that hand” as well.
’Wear what you want’ burkini ban protest to be held at French embassy
But he added: “We’ve got to make sure that we don’t inadvertently give the impression of being complacent or arrogant because things aren’t perfect in London. If we want to do integration better, we can’t stand still.”
The two mayors will also discuss security, with Mr Khan pledging the Met Police would work even closer with their French counterparts to fight extremism and radicalisation than they currently do.
“London and Paris share common security interests. We’re both home to some of the best specialist police units in the world. If by working closer together we can make even the smallest improvements to our capabilities on either side then it‘s something we’ve got to do,” he said.
He said London was already learning more about preventing lorry attacks as a result of the Nice attacks, and more bollards would be used at this weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival.
Mr Khan will visit the Paris Plage on the banks of the Seine, part of the city’s drive to improve air quality. The two mayors will also discuss Brexit and jobs.