Italian city bars Muslim 'burqini' swimsuit
The anti-immigration mayor of a northern Italian city has barred Muslim women from wearing the controversial body-concealing swimsuit known as a burqini, a report said Wednesday.
Women wearing the garment made up of a veil, a tunic and loose leggings face a fine of 500 euros (700 dollars) if spotted at swimming pools or riversides in the northern Piedmont town of Varallo Sesia, the ANSA news agency reported.
"The sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene," mayor Gianluca Buonanno was quoted as saying.
"We don't have to be tolerant all the time," he said.
Justifying the move, Buonanno added: "Imagine a Western woman bathing in a bikini in a Muslim country. The consequences could be decapitation, prison or deportation. We are merely prohibiting the use of the burqini."
The incident came as French lawmakers conducted hearings on whether to ban the burqa after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the head-to-toe body covering and veil was "not welcome" in France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority.
It has backed several initiatives hostile to Muslims.