A Muslim woman from Australia who wore a burkini on a French beach as a protest at its ban was forcibly removed after being confronted by angry locals, she told a TV station.
Zeynab Alshelh, from Sydney, went to the Riviera earlier this summer to stage the public protest in defiance at the public opposition to the wearing of the full-length swimsuit after the Nice terror attack in July.
The 23-year-old medical student and her mother wore their blue burkinis in the resort of Villeneuve-Loubet, where the ban on the full-body swimsuit had already been overturned by France's highest administrative court.
However they were still met with an angry reaction from their fellow holidaymakers.
"We were threatened by locals to leave the beach and if we didn't they were going to call the police. They weren't happy with us being there, even though it was on the beach that the burkini ban was overturned but the locals were not happy," she told the Australian Channel Seven's programme Sunday Night.
She revealed that while others commented on their dress, man approached her and threatened to call the police if she and her family refused to leave.
Alshelh called on a local Muslim woman for assistance as she offered to answer questions from the locals about why she chooses to wear a burkini and understand their objections to her choice of swimwear.
"I just wanted to see it for myself, I wanted to see what is going on here – why is this happening – I want to speak to the girls who have gone through this kind of stuff," she said.
The Australian citizen said she came to France to stage the demonstration to show solidarity with Muslims and raise questions about why the burkini was being associated with terrorism .
"There shouldn't be a connection between terrorism and the burkini and there shouldn't be a connection between terrorism and Islam altogether," Alshelh said. "I have a nose, you have a nose you have two eyes, I have two eyes - everything is the same just slight difference in your believe systems."
A keen sportswoman, Alshelh, began wearing a burka at the age of 10. She told Mail Online it allowed her to combine her love of sports such as karate with her religion.
France's highest court suspended the controversial ban on the full-body burkini swimsuit, in Villeneuve-Loubet, following challenges by human rights groups after women were forced to remove the garments in public view and ordered off beaches by armed police.
The UN Human Rights Office had said the ban amounted to "a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms" and a "stupid reaction" to the recent terror attacks.
The ban was lifted in Villeneuve Loubet, Cannes, Roquebrune and Frejus after it was deemed unconstitutional and contravened the right to freedom of religion. However, more than 30 towns on the Riviera continue to enforce the ban.
The Australian creator of the burkini Aheda Zanetti said she is bewildered by the controversy surrounding the garment.
"Have they misunderstood?" she asked. "I introduced the burkini for integration, for freedom, and they've used it in a negative way," she previously told Daily Mail Australia. "The burkini isn't just for Muslim women - around 40 per cent of the women who buy the swimsuit are non-Muslim."