In the wake of the recent ban on the burkini across several European cities, a French businessman is coming to the rescue of the women who just want to have a good time on the beach while wearing a wetsuit.
For those unaware, the ban on the burkini — a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women — was initiated by a number of French beach resorts earlier this month. Authorities who issued the ban provided a plethora of reasons, including security, hygiene and, most of all, coercion of Muslim women.
Muslim women, however, have disapproved of the ban, saying it’s discriminatory since it robs them of the choice as to how to cover their bodies.
Those still daring to wear the burkini have to pay fines. For instance, in Cannes where the ban will be enforced from July 28 to Aug. 31, non-compliance has a fine of €38 (about $42).
But it appears Muslim women, at least the ones in France, don’t have to worry about paying any money since Rachid Nekkaz, a French-born Algerian entrepreneur and human rights activist, has taken it upon himself to pick up their tabs.
“As soon as I see that France is not respecting fundamental liberties, I always get my checkbook out,” Nekkaz told the Telegraph.
Over the past month, only three fines were handed out in the country, and Nekkaz reportedly paid all three of them.
"I decided to pay for all the fines of women who wear the burkini in order to guarantee their freedom of wearing these clothes, and most of all, to neutralize the application on the ground of this oppressive and unfair law," he told CNN in a separate interview.
Not many people know that the wealthy entrepreneur has a long history of scooping out thousands of dollars to help women in similar situations, which earned him the nickname “Zorro of the niqab.”
In 2011, he set up a million euro fund in the wake of the full-face veil aka niqab ban for Muslim women.
Despite his activism for the niqab, Nekkaz, who identifies himself as a secular Muslim, does not support the full-face veil, which he believes is not a good way for Muslims to integrate in the European society.
But he also condemns the breach of women’s rights to choose what they wear.
“I’m in favor of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home. But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy, ” Nekkaz stated in 2011.