Swiss carnival group creates burkini-themed float in ‘message of hope’

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Swiss carnival group creates burkini-themed float in ‘message of hope’
File photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP

A group of friends participating in this weekend’s Brandons de Payerne carnival intend to wear burkinis and parade alongside a float designed as a swimming pool to “send a message of hope”.


The friends, who call themselves the Bibi's [sic], have been taking part in Payerne’s annual carnival since 2008.
As the group's official page shows, the 12 friends from Payerne have previously dressed in various different costumes for the carnival parade, including as superheroes.
According to newspaper 20 Minutes the group have caused a bit of a stir in the run up to this year’s carnival by posting adverts around town saying a shop selling burkinis – full-body swimwear for Muslim women – will be setting up in the Vaud town.  
The news, which caused consternation among some residents, was actually only a joke staged by the Bibi's ahead of Sunday’s carnival parade. 
Speaking to the paper, the president of the group said their float would depict a swimming pool where all forms of attire are accepted. 
The members of the Bibi's, many of whom are men, will wear burkinis. 
“We simply wanted to give a message of hope, peace and openness,” said the group's president. 
Another member of the group told the paper that they’d ordered the swimwear from Algeria. 
The burkini was invented by Australian-Lebanese Aheda Zanetti more than a decade ago. 
Last summer the swimwear hit the headlines when a town in southern France banned it, sparking some 30 other French towns to follow suit.
The ban, which came after the July 14th terror attack in Nice, was later overturned when France’s highest court ruled the ban was a “serious and illegal attack on fundamental freedoms”.
There is no burkini ban in Switzerland, and in fact schools have used the existence of the full-body swimwear as a reason to compel Muslim schoolgirls to attend mixed-sex swimming lessons, the subject of several court cases in the country in recent years. 
However a pool in Basel sparked controversy last year as it banned certain types of loose burkini, saying staff couldn't distinguish them from street clothes. 
The Bibi's in burkinis are listed as float 22 in this Sunday's Brandons de Payerne.


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