French PM Valls slams New York Times report on burkini ban

France’s prime minister Manuel Valls has reacted strongly to an article published by the New York Times on September 2nd, in which French Muslim women complained of discrimination.
The article “paints an intolerable picture, because it is false, of France, the country of the Enlightenment and liberties,” Mr Valls retorted in an opinion piece published online by the Huffington Post France.
Regarding this summer’s controversy over the banning by more than 30 French towns of the burkini on public beaches, Mr Valls said: “The burkini is not an ordinary bathing suit. It is a provocation by radical Islam which is on the rise and which wants to impose itself in the public sphere.”
The paper said it stood by the article. Some Muslims say they are being targeted unfairly over burkinis.
Some of the women quoted by the NYT said the clothing was a chance for them to take part in activities, such as going to the beach, in line with their religious beliefs.
Many also complained of an alleged discrimination by non-Muslims exacerbated by the recent attacks in France and Belgium, and of restrictions in wearing the headscarf, banned in French public buildings.
One said: “French Muslim women would be justified to request asylum in the United States… given how many persecutions we are subjected to.”
Another talked of being “afraid of having to wear a yellow crescent on my clothes one day, like the Star of David for Jews not so long ago”.
The New York Times responded to the prime minister’s accusations, saying, “Our story was rigorously reported and based on responses by more than 1,200 readers to an online call-out in English, French and Arabic asking for the views of Muslim women in Europe after the burkini ban. We stand by the article.”

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