Protesters have taken their outrage to social media after a 21-year-old French woman was brutally attacked by a gang of young Islamist women for wearing a bikini in a public park in the northern French city of Reims.
The woman, named as Angelique Sloss, was severely beaten last week by five women between the ages of 16 and 24, while she was sunbathing with two friends. All the attackers have since been arrested and are scheduled to appear in court in September.
Protesters wearing bikinis and swimsuits held a rally at the park, in the northern city of Reims, yesterday despite rain and cold winds.
Hundreds across France joined the campaign on Twitter, posting photos of themselves wearing swimsuits in public places.
Spectators have likened the campaign to the JeSuisCharlie Twitter campaign, following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January.
The incident began when one of the Muslim women allegedly shouted at Sloss for acting “immorally” by wearing a swim suit in public, leading to speculation that the attack was religiously motivated. Sloss responded and the women began slapping and punching her. A passerby eventually broke up the attack.
Using the hashtag #JePorteMonMaillotAuParcLeo (I wear my swimsuit to Park Leo), the campaign was organized by an anti-racism organization called SOS Racisme. Women (and men) have taken pictures of themselves wearing swim suits in public parks and beaches and posted them on Twitter.
French police said the attackers came from housing estates with large Muslim populations.
Passersby managed to stop the assault, but Ms Sloss has been unable to go to work following the assault because of the ‘severe bruising’.
This has sparked assumptions that the attack was religiously-motivated, and the incident is being held up by some right-wing observers as proof that radical Islamic ideas pose a threat to French values.
The Mayor of Reims, Arnaud Robinet, said: ‘We have to be very careful not to jump to conclusions. All the same, I can understand why people have assumed that this attack had religious motives. If that turns out to be the case, it is a very serious incident.’
One of the group is reported to have shouted at the woman for ‘immorally’ exposing so much flesh in public.
The woman responded and the group attacked her, slapping and punching her.
Protesters wearing bikinis and swim suits also held a demonstration in the park with hundreds more taking to express outrage and their solidary with Sloss on social media.
Lisez le communiqué de SOS racisme en français