Lebanese activists protested on a beach in the coastal city of Sidon after a woman said she was harassed because of an allegedly indecent swimsuit, an AFP correspondent said.
Dozens of protesters, mostly women, gathered briefly in this conservative, majority-Sunni Muslim city, defying a municipal ban on demonstrations, the correspondent said.
Journalist and women’s rights activist Diana Maukeld said, “We have all come together to support the right of women to be in public places, whether in a bikini or a burkini.” «Public places are not just for certain people based on their beliefs, but for everyone. It is a constitutional right,” he told AFP.
In last week’s incident, a group of conservative religious Muslims attacked a bathing woman and her husband at a public beach in Sidon, accusing them of not respecting local rules because of the woman’s dress.
The incident sparked a wave of solidarity on social media, with some women posing in swimsuits with the hashtag #Sidon.
However, others praised the conservative intervention.
Sidon City Council on Saturday banned both the women’s protest and the planned counter-demonstration, which it said was “against modesty, propriety and nudity”.
A group of conservative Muslims later arrived to break up a protest in support of swimwear and prayed on the beach as security forces moved out of the area.
Sheikh Houssam Ilani condemned the “provocation” of protesters, who defied the ban on protesting.
A sign at the entrance to the beach indicates that alcohol is prohibited and asks for “decent dress”.
Lebanese law does not ban bathing suits in public, but women in the conservative coastal city often choose to visit private beaches in such clothing.