24 Aug 2016

Burkini ban 'boosts sales by 200 percent'

5:47 pm on 24 August 2016

The Australian woman credited with creating the burkini says bans on the full-bodied Islamic swimsuit in France have boosted sales.

Muslim models display burkini swimsuits at a shop in western Sydney

Muslim models display burkini swimsuits at a shop in western Sydney. Photo: AFP

The clothing - which combines "burqa" with "bikini" - leaves only the face, hands and feet on show.

The mayor of Cannes has ruled any person wearing "improper clothes that are not respectful of good morals and secularism", and which "ostentatiously displays religious affiliation" could be fined €38.

Aheda Zanetti, who claims the trademark on the names burkini and burqini, said online sales were up by 200 percent.

The 48-year-old Sydney woman said the swimsuits represented freedom and healthy living - not oppression.

"I'm an Aussie chick, I've been here all my life," she said.

"I know what hijab means. I know what veil means. I know what Islam means. And I know who I am."

Ms Zanetti said the original intention behind the garment was to allow Muslim women to participate in the Australian beach lifestyle.

"I wanted my girls to grow up to have that freedom of choice," she said.

"I don't care if they want to have a bikini. It's their choice.

"No man in this entire world can tell us what to wear or what not to wear."

She said the design was partially inspired by reports of France banning the hijab in schools to discourage the growth of Islam.

Authorities in several French towns have banned the garment, arguing it defies laws on secularism.

The debate is particularly sensitive in France after a series of deadly attacks by Islamic extremists.