Burkini about inclusion not division

MESSAGE OF PEACE: Models clad in burkini swimsuits pose for photos with Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti, center, in western Sydney on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2016
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Burkini about inclusion not division

SYDNEY: The burkini swimsuit has sparked huge controversy in France, but in Australia where beach culture is a national obsession, it’s seen as a symbol of inclusion, says its designer Aheda Zanetti.

The light-weight, quick-drying two-piece swimsuit which covers the body and hair has been banned from French beaches by several mayors in recent weeks following deadly attacks linked to radicals.
While Australia is grappling with a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment after a series of assaults by radicalized youth, the burqini has not attracted strong criticism in a country where people regularly cover up at beaches to protect their skin from the harsh sunshine.
The swimsuit is rather seen as allowing more people to participate in the outdoor lifestyle Australians celebrate as part of their national culture.
When Australian-Lebanese Zanetti, 48, was designing the outfit on the lounge-room floor of her home in the multicultural southwestern Sydney suburb of Bankstown more than a decade ago, her first thoughts were about how it could help girls play sports while respecting their faith as Muslims.
“Australia has a lifestyle of beach, surf and sun and sporting activities and I felt that when I was growing up I missed out on a lot of the activities,” Zanetti told AFP, adding that the idea stemmed from watching her niece play netball.
“I just didn’t want anyone to miss out on any sporting activities like we all did because of our modesty restrictions.”
Zanetti — who was a housewife with three young children at the time — opened her first shop in Sydney in 2005. Since then, she has sold some 700,000 suits, with the multi-million-dollar business also exporting to wholesalers in countries such as Bahrain, Britain, South Africa and Switzerland.
The burkini came to national prominence after the Cronulla riots in Sydney in December 2005, when a drunken white mob attacked Arab-Australians in a bid to “reclaim the beach” after two lifesavers — viewed as national icons — were beaten, and retaliatory attacks spread.
The violence shocked Australians and sparked efforts by Surf Life Saving Australia to recruit Muslim lifeguards to patrol beaches.
They also commissioned Zanetti to create a burkini in their iconic red and yellow colors.
For Siham Karra-Hassan, the burkini was her opportunity to return to the swimming pool, two decades after she was chased out of the water by a lifeguard for wearing cotton clothes.
“When the burkini came out, things changed very quickly,” the mother-of-six told AFP, adding that her 25-year-old daughter was a burkini-wearing swimming instructor.


Netflix has no plans to cut ‘Bird Box’ scene despite outcry

Updated 17 January 2019
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Netflix has no plans to cut ‘Bird Box’ scene despite outcry

NEW YORK: Netflix’s post-apocalyptic survival film “Bird Box” is drawing criticism for using footage of a real fiery Canadian train disaster, but the streaming giant has no plans to remove it.
Netflix licensed the footage of the disaster from the stock image vendor Pond 5 and used it in “Bird Box” in an early TV news montage to set up its horrific premise.
In a statement, Pond 5 says the footage “was taken out of context” and the company wanted to “sincerely apologize.”
But a Netflix spokesman said on Thursday that it wasn’t planning to cut the footage, saying: “We will keep the clip in the movie.” But the spokesman acknowledged that Netflix will be looking at ways to do things differently moving forward.