France's former minister for families, Nadine Morano, has sparked a political debate after posting an image of a veiled woman sitting on a French beach and saying, 'It's a French woman's duty to wear a bikini,' as translated by The Independent.
Morano, 51, complained on Facebook that she had seen a Muslim woman sitting on an unamed French beach over the weekend, wearing a headscarf, long-sleeved tunic and trousers while the man with her, thought to be her husband, bathed in the sea.
On Monday, she published a picture of the woman alongside a magazine cover featuring 1950s and 1960s sex symbol Brigitte Bardot in a bikini.
Originally in French and translated by The Independent, Morano wrote: "When you choose to come to a country of secular laws like France, you have an obligation to respect our culture and the liberty of women. Or you go somewhere else."
Morano is a centre-right politician and a member of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the political party of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Her statement sparked a debate on social media and from politicians.
Jean-Marc Germain a member of the Socialist Party and husband of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said Morano represented "the worst of the right-wing...who rejects others, who believes that you are not a proper French person if you are Muslim".
Former minister, Valérie Pécresse, who is also a member of the UMP, criticised Ms Morano’s definition of 'freedom'. "As long as they’re not breaking the law, people should be allowed to wear whatever they want," she said.
Meanwhile, the deputy president of the far-right National Front, Florian Philippot, repeated his party's call for a ban on "overt religious symbols" in public.
France's Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem, Harlem Désir, said he can "understand" Morano's reaction. "I have witnessed this sort of scene, not just in France but also in other countries, and I have always found it absurd."
But he went on to point out that there was no law prohibiting headscarves where the face is visible in public places. He warned that "we must be careful not to go beyond respect for the law."
Under French law, only full face-covering veils such as niqabs or burqas are banned in public places. Under a separate law, no visible religious symbol can be worn at work by any public service employee or by pupils in state-run schools.
Nadine Morano in December 2013
Read Morano's full statement in English below, as translated by Bing on Facebook:
Brigitte Bardot. This image of a France proud of its freedom women got a hit so suddenly is a striking contrast with the scene that took place before my eyes, on a beach in France, a few days ago, and challenges.
I took myself this photo in a public place but where person is identifiable. Under a hot sun on a beach in France packed with vacationers in swimsuits, a couple arrived. A man wearing shorts and a short-sleeved Jersey accompanied by a woman dressed in a long-sleeved tunic, trousers and a veil. In a few minutes, man began in swimsuit showing off a well-done body, while the Lady sat down all dressed, though wisely on the sand.
He walked alone, towards the sea. Happy to enjoy a good swim, he address his sweet which seemed, alone, surrounded by Beach body, signs of the hand.
He is therefore entitled to undress, bathe, it not! Confidence women, confidence in his fellow male...See this on the territory of the human rights is infuriating!
It is nothing that violated public order since the woman had facial discovered in accordance with the law. In view of this scene, cannot help but feel an infringement of our culture that strikes man-woman equality.
When you choose to come to France, rule of law, secular, it must respect our culture and freedom of women. Otherwise, we are going elsewhere! When a French moves in a country where the culture is different, it respects and does not occur in Bardot dress...
In France, women earned the right to vote, freedom to work without the permission of their husbands, the freedom to open an account in Bank, driving a car, wear pants, abortion, contraception, etc... Even if the path is still long ahead particularly with regard to equal pay, I measure the difficult struggle remains to be carried out for other women of the world, oppressed and subject. We need y help and denounce the abuses of male dominance and be uncompromising when she lives in France!
That it does not come tell me once again Islam...I call on Muslims who have chosen to live in France and integrate, to the French of the Muslim faith that we respect, defend with me, a simple reality: La France is not a religious State, can practise his religion in accordance with prior law. The France is a secular State: we have to love him, to respect its culture and women's rights, equality between men and women or should live elsewhere!"
Main image: Brigitte Bardot in 1964
(Image credit: Facebook, Rex Features)