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Swedish Store Facing Boycott for Backing Burkini as 'Important for Democracy'

© AFP 2023 / FETHI BELAIDTunisian women, one (R) wearing a "burkini", a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, swim at Ghar El Melh beach near Bizerte, north-east of the capital Tunis
Tunisian women, one (R) wearing a burkini, a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, swim at Ghar El Melh beach near Bizerte, north-east of the capital Tunis - Sputnik International
Having proudly launched the all-covering Islamic female swimming garment, the sports chain Stadium briefly halted sales of the item following bitter criticism on social media, only to reintroduce them in their stores, opining that women had the democratic right to conceal their bodies. This step, however, fueled further criticism.

The Swedish sports chain Stadium blamed the brief disappearance of the "Modesty Suit," a swimming suit adhering to the norms of fundamentalist Islam, on a technical error, stressing its commitment to democracy and universal equality.

"We have chosen to usher in the burkini into our product range because customers demanded it. Stadium stands for universal equality and we think it's a democratic right to do sports regardless of age, gender, background, religion, beliefs, culture, ethnicity or political values," the company wrote on its Facebook page.

"No clarification is enough in this context. We don't encourage anyone to use the burkini, instead we want to make sure that people are given an opportunity to engage in an active life," Stadium explained.

READ MORE: Burkinis Mysteriously Disappear From Swedish Sports Webstore After Criticism

Last week, Stadium proudly launched the sale of burkinis starting from SEK 1,249 ($138) stressing it was listening to customers' wishes. In no time, its Facebook page was inundated with indignant commentaries from users, who went so far as to threaten to boycott the chain altogether. Shortly afterward, the garment mysteriously vanished from Stadium's website. Stadium blamed the disappearance on a "technical error."

The reintroduction of the burkini was met with further rage from Swedish customers promising to ostracize the company for its "politically correct ways."

The local newspaper Kristianstadsbladet ventured that Stadium should feel shame instead of pride, and go on a "study trip to Iran."

"Most people understand that full-covering garments are limiting women. Serious companies in equal Sweden should say a definite 'no' to this. The problem with big chains pandering to the wishes of moral police about how girls should dress is that it further normalizes and legitimizes such behavior," Kristianstadsbladet's unsigned editorial said.

Moderate party member Hanif Bali likened the burkini to the swastika and ventured that "honor culture" was now on sale at Stadium, triggering further debates on the accuracy of his comparison.

​The burkini is often seen as symbolically charged and has previously incited hot debates across Europe. In Sweden, Sara Mohammed, the president of the women's rights NGO Never Forget Pela and Fadime (GAPF), named after victims of the so-called "honor culture," called it a "strong symbol of women's oppression." The burkini was banned in parts of France in 2016.

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