Over the Eid El-Fitr holiday, a Muslim woman was forced out of the beach for wearing a burkini, the modest swimsuit that covers the entire body. No, this did not happen in the West, nor in a country where Muslims are minorities. It happened in the Muslim-majority Lebanese city of Tripoli.
Last night, Noura Al Zaim, an American University of Beirut (AUB) and Lebanese American University (LAU) graduate, took to Facebook to share her disappointing experience at the Miramar Hotel Resort in Tripoli.
In her post, Al Zaim reveals that she was stopped from swimming at the beach in the resort, where she had been spending the vacation with her family.
The reason? Only swimwear is allowed at the resort and burkinis are not real swimsuits, apparently.
According to her post, Al Zaim had booked a couple of nights at the resort, where she was spending the holiday with her husband and one-year-old son.
She had bought a full-body swimsuit from Mike Sport, a well-known retailer for professional sportswear. Al Zaim emphasized that her burkini is made of the same material as any other bathing suit.
When she went to the beach, the monitor told her that she could not enter the water as per the resort's policy. Three other employees, along with the manager, then insisted that she get out of the beach.
"I told him the beach is public property and I have not caused any harm," she wrote. "I have the right, like any other Lebanese citizen, to go to the beach."
The manager claimed that he was just applying the resort's policy, which dictates that "only swimsuits are allowed" without clarifying what kind of swimsuits are permitted.
In a call, the resort told StepFeed that it does not permit burkinis and refused to give a clarification.
Al Zaim continued to say that she tried negotiating with the manager, who then offered to allow her into the indoor pool. "There is no sunlight and no one there [at the pool]," according to Al Zaim.
When she told the manager she would spread the word about the incident, he said that the resort is free to do whatever it wants. "In other words, he didn't care," she wrote.
Al Zaim and her family then decided to leave the resort and get a refund.
StepFeed has reached out to Al Zaim for comment.
"I never imagined that someone could stop me from going to the beach in Tripoli because of my hijab," she wrote, adding that the lifeguard should have had some compassion for her after seeing her playing with her son, who was having a great time.
"You should add on your policy how many centimeters from a woman's body should be exposed," she said, adding that it is a shame to have such a bigoted and regressive mentality in Lebanon.
"These things shouldn't go unnoticed," she added, asking people to leave negative reviews on Miramar's Facebook page.
People are proud of Noura for speaking up
Western countries allow the burkini, but Lebanon doesn't?
What a shame!
"'4. Swimsuit is mandatory.' Next time, clarify what kind of swimsuit is permitted, whether one piece or two pieces, so people would not go through such situations in their own country. Shame on you!"
This is extremism, by the way
"Ignorant and extremist people thinking they are the epitome of open-mindedness."
Designed to help Muslim women enjoy the beach without compromising their modest dress code, the burkini has stirred controversy during the past year.
Last year, several towns in France decided to ban full-body swimsuits. The country's highest administrative court then ruled that the "burkini ban" is illegal and a violation of fundamental liberties.
Lebanese resorts are no strangers to racism and discrimination
Many incidents of racism or discrimination have been reported at Lebanese beach resorts.
Not only do some resorts ban burkinis, but they also ban any other type of swimsuit apart from the traditional bikini.
Last summer, a young Lebanese-Canadian woman was barred from swimming in a well-known resort in Beirut for wearing a one-piece bathing suit with swimming shorts.
Additionally, several resorts do not allow domestic workers to swim in their pools.