It is extraordinary to think that after so many decades, indeed centuries, of an alleged claim to secularism that France, of all places, saw fit to decide that an item of clothing would be prohibited at the beach. Obviously in the future people will look back at this and and shake their heads at the inane pettiness of such narrow-mindedness. But for the time being, because as a species we haven't yet quite learned to live with one other on one planet, issues such a cultural and religious differences are thrown about as if they are deserving of some great importance. Of course, it is the reaction to people, and especially women, and especially Muslim women, wearing something different at the beach that has generated such outrage.
The Burkini Ban
The burkini was designed in Australia by Aheda Zanetti. It satisfies traditions among Islamic (and other religions) on what constitutes modest dress, but there is also plenty of examples of non-religious people using it as well - such as journalist Nigella Lawson, who wears it to protect her skin. In fact, Zanetti estimates that up to 40% of people who purchase the burkini are not Muslim - and some are men . The design covers the who body except the face, hands, and feet, but is light enough to enable swimming. In other words, in terms of coverage, it's a loose-fitting wetsuit.