Two holidaying British Muslim women have been left humiliated after they were told to leave a pool because they were wearing burkinis.
Maryya Dean and her sister-in-law Hina were on holiday in Albufeira, Portugal with their children and were sitting by a pool when staff told them their swimwear was “not acceptable for the pool.”
They say they were also told they “must wear a bikini to follow Portuguese culture.”
Dean told British website Mirror Online that things got even worse when a maintenance worker at the pool made her 9-year-old daughter stand up so he could show what was an acceptable costume to be wearing.
“Given my cultural background I was wearing a burkini,” Dean explained.
“I was approached by the building security manager as someone made a complaint that I was not wearing a bikini and therefore not appropriate to be in the pool… I was compared to my 9-year-old daughter who was told to stand up out of the pool to see what she was wearing which I found completely rude – I was told I should wear that to swim.”
“I was not allowed to wear swimming gear that I am comfortable in and that was actually made for women like me to wear.”
She said she asked to see a sign that indicated the requirement for women to wear a bikini, but added there were none.
The 36-year-old added: “The man then started making cultural references and said that Portuguese people wear bikinis and so should we… We were embarrassed as we came out of the pool with four children and people were watching us like we’d committed a crime.”
Neither Dean nor her sister-in-law was wearing full burkinis, but instead covered swim suits. The outfits were three-quarter length leggings and tops with sleeves down to their elbows.
Hina explained that she saw another tourist commenting to one of the children about their outfits, then she said the maintenance man approached them.
“He said it wasn’t possible for me to be in the pool with clothes on, and said I must wear a bikini.”
“We told him it was swimwear but he said ‘you have to wear a bikini or shorts. In Portuguese culture, it’s not acceptable.’ He said we had to abide by Portuguese culture if we were in the country.”
“We told him we didn’t wear bikinis because we weren’t comfortable in them. It was a confidence thing… But he kept repeating ‘you have to wear a bikini.’ We were feeling really humiliated.”
She added: “I keep thinking about it. We had to do a ‘walk of shame’ back to the apartment, it was disgusting.”
Both women said they wear the modest swimsuits for cultural and confidence reasons.
The two women said the experience left them feeling embarrassed and they did not use the pool again.
The French sparked outrage among Muslims last year when a number of women were approached by police on beeches because they were wearing burkinis.
In late July, 2016, the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, banned the burkini on public beaches, calling them “the uniform of extremist Islamism.”
His announcement prompted a number of mayors throughout France to take similar action.
On Aug. 26, the French Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, ruled that the mayors did not have the right to ban burkinis and overturned the ban.
But many of the mayors said they intended to ignore the ban.