Rachid Nekkaz is an entrepreneur who believes that the burkini ban in 26 French resort towns is “deplorable” and “goes against democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in every way.” He has decided to do something about it and has paid the fines for five Muslim women since the ban went into effect last month.
This is nothing new for the well-off businessman. Since 2010, he has earmarked one-million Euros to pay fines given to French women who were ticketed for wearing a face-veil (such as a niqab or burqa) which is illegal in France. So far, he has paid 1,165 fines in France, and also Switzerland and Belgium, amounting to over $200,000. Belgium has recently stopped fining Muslim women.
“I want to de-dramatize the situation,” says Mr. Nekkaz. “There’s no choice but to pay these fines. But these women are suffering and France’s spirit of vivre ensemble [the concept of living together harmoniously] suffers too.”