Marine Le Pen, who leads France’s National Front offer critiques of the advance of political Islam in the country. The 48-year-old Le Pen spoke to the current controversy over whether or not Muslim women should be allowed to wear a total body-covering – the “burkini.” She said, “The burkini is a symptom. One of the multiple symptoms of the rise of fundamentalist Islam in France for many years.”
 
Le Pen continued, saying “It is about demands that are designed to say ‘We Muslims, though not all are in agreement with this, we want to eat differently, we want to live differently, and we want to dress differently’.”
 
Le Pen is a vocal proponent of Donald Trump. She said recently that “anybody but Hillary” as the next US president would be best for France.
 
Le Pen, whose party is known for its strident nationalist rhetoric, responded in the CNN interview as to whether Muslim women are being targeted by proposed burkini bans, said, “Because it is fundamentalist Muslims that are causing problems in France. No other religion is causing problems.”
 
The highest administrative court in France ruled this week against a burkini ban, finding that French mayors had no authority to outlaw the swimsuit. Several mayors, however, vow to defy the ban.
 
The Collective Against Islamophobia in France, a plaintiff in the case, said warned mayors that it will continue to press them over the ban. 
 
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is arguing that the burkini is a threat to French national identity. At a rally to advance his 2017 election campaign to reclaim the presidency, Sarkozy said, “I refuse to let the burkini impose itself in French beaches and swimming pools…there must be a law to ban it throughout the Republic’s territory. Our identity is under threat when we accept an immigration policy that makes no sense.”
 
Popular support for Sarkozy and Le Pen has spiked following terrorist attacks this year in Nice and Normandy.
 
Beaches are a contentious issue in France. At a nudist beach this week, police were called in to separated nude and clothed bathers who grappled in the sand. Clothed bathers insisted that they were within the rights to remained clothed at the designated nudist beach. When nude bathers demanded that they disrobe or leave the beach, they refused. A fight broke out that required the intervention of police.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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