Francis Kalifat of CRIF said that lawmakers should "consider differentiating religious symbols from political-religious symbols."
Ending a long and conspicuous silence on the burkini ban in France, the president of the umbrella group of French Jews for the first time directly addressed the ban last month by 30 French municipalities on the full-body swimsuit favored by Muslim women seeking modesty.
However, Francis Kalifat of CRIF stopped short of supporting or opposing the ban, saying only that lawmakers should “consider differentiating religious symbols from political-religious symbols.” It was not clear which he considers the burkini to be.
In an interview published Monday on the Actualite Juive Jewish news website, Kalifat said radical and sectarian Islam and its fanatics “are looking for ways today to destabilize the French republic with the aim of vanquishing the societal model we inhabit today.”
He also said: “This polemic will, of course, also affect the Jewish community.”
Religious Orthodox women also adhere to clothing deemed modest, though few wear burkinis to the beach in France.
Kalifat has resisted calls to speak against the divisive ban, which a court on Aug. 26 ruled was illegal, in solidarity with French Muslims.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has defended the ban, saying the wearing of burkinis on French beaches was “part of a political project … to perpetuate female servitude.” Critics of the ban have argued it infringes on the very liberties its supporters say it is designed to protect... Read more