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Burkini in Australia
2011

Ahiida Zanetti lives in Sidney. When she saw her niece wearing her Islamic veil and doing sports, she had the idea of designing the burqini. I remembered that, as a young girl, I had missed a lot of things, like swimming. So I created something that I could wear while being active, Ahiida Zanetti explains. The burqini is born of the encounter of my Muslim culture and my Australian way of life. Is it not a mix between a burqa and a bikini, simply because it does not cover the face. Ahiida Zanetti now produces roughly 5 to 6 000 models every two months.

Lucky and Ramla are two sisters born in Somalia. Their family fled the civil war and ended up in Adlaide, an Australian city greatly influenced by Great Britain.
We realized that Muslim women where often left aside, Ramla explains. We created the Muslim Girls Kollective in 2008. Weve organized, one Saturday every fortnight during 18 months, encounters for Muslim women. In the morning, a speaker would come and tell us about work, health, marital abuse, In the afternoon, we would organize activities, like ice-skating, cinema, paint ball

Thanks to the impact of that Muslim Girls Kollective, Stephen Cornish, from Surf Life Saving Australia, got in touch with the two sisters. In charge of the programme for South Australia, he wanted to promote diversity into the clubs. Life savers are Australian icons, he explains. It is important for our clubs to be the reflection of the community we live in.

The two young sisters are now practicing swimming and running every week. Their goal is to obtain the bronze medal that will enable them to carry out sea rescues. For now, they join the patrols on the Henley beach once a month. The burqini changed their behaviour on the beach: When I started wearing the Islamic veil, I tried to swim fully dressed. It was really uncomfortable, says Lucky. She is now swimming with the burqini and is absolutely satisfied: I had forgotten how funny it is to be in the water. We should change its name: why not call it funkini?

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