French spa ‘calls police’ after row over Muslim influencers wearing burkinis

Nella Rose has claimed two Muslim women were told they had to change into appropriate swimwear otherwise they would be removed from the spa.

Nella Rose appeared on I'm a Celebrity in 2023. (Nella Rose)
Nella Rose appeared on I'm a Celebrity in 2023. (Nella Rose)

An 'I'm A Celeb' influencer has claimed a luxury French spa called police following a row where two Muslim women were told they couldn't wear burkinis.

Nella Rose, a Belgian-born British influencer who appeared on the hit ITV show last year, was one of 20 UK creators on a brand trip to celebrate the launch of skincare brand Topicals. She claimed that two Muslim women in the group were prevented from using the facilities because they were wearing modest swimwear.

QC Terme’s website clearly states the dress code for women at the Chamonix branch: “One-piece or two-piece swimming costumes. Any other type of clothing is strictly forbidden, including short swimming costumes and covering swimming costumes.” The issue of burkinis has been a contentious issue in France since they were initially banned on beaches by more than a dozen coastal towns in a 2016 ruling that outraged Muslims.

A burkini is a type of body-covering swimwear that leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed and is often worn by Muslim women who wish to preserve their modesty in accordance with their beliefs.

Topicals, which is a Black-owned US company, said in a statement on social media that it had “experienced discrimination, harassment, and were threatened to have law enforcement called on us”. Topicals did not name the spa.

In her Snapchat video, which was posted on 30 March, Rose claims she was in the changing room with a group of female influencers. As they left, Rose says two Muslim women who were part of their party were stopped and told they could not use the facilities while wearing their burkini. Rose, who speaks French, claims a member of staff told the pair burkinis were against their policy and directed them to purchase appropriate swimwear from the spa’s store.

Rose goes on to claim in her video post that the rest of the influencers continued to go to the pool and were subsequently told by a member of staff that others in the pool felt “uncomfortable”. Rose claims that the spa’s policy banning covering swimwear is Islamophobic.

Videos posted on TikTok last weekend that have gone viral seemingly show a member of staff at the QC Terme spa in Chamonix, France, telling the group outside the building: “We just called the police. They are coming.”

Yahoo News has been unable to verify the video and tried to contact QC Terme on multiple occasions to confirm whether they called the police and, if so, on what grounds. Yahoo News has also reached out the Rose and Topicals for additional comment.

Rose posted her videos to Snapchat, and fans reposted her clips to TikTok where they went viral - with one of the re-uploads at 1.5 million views.

One of the Muslim women involved, May Tahmina Akhtar, said on her Instagram Stories said: “It was a traumatic experience. I'm sad that we all experienced this but also that a black-owned brand can't even have a brand trip to uplift their black and brown creators without this nonsense.”

In 2016, France introduced a much-publicised ban on the wearing of burkinis in public pools and beaches. The law led to instances of women being forced to remove their burkinis by police officers or face a fine. After an outcry, the nationwide ban was lifted.

However, towns across the country have been able to ban burkinis from public pools instead. In June 2022, France's top administrative court ruled that full-body swimwear - including the burkini - should not be worn in public pools in the city of Grenoble after the city’s mayor of Grenoble challenged that law and argued people should be allowed to dress how they like.

Nella Rose discussed the incident on her SnapChat. (Nella Rose)
Nella Rose discussed the incident on her SnapChat. (Nella Rose)

Human Rights Watch’s France director Bénédicte Jeannerod described the ban in 2016 as “shameful and absurd”.

Topicals said in its statement, posted to their social media platforms on 1 April, that the experience would not deter them from trips with black and brown creators. It said: “At one of the establishments on our itinerary, we experienced discrimination, harassment, and were threatened to have law enforcement called on us.

“Just as any other group of people, we should be able to enjoy the luxuries of travel and finer experiences without the constant fear of hate.”

Who is Nella Rose?

The TV presenter started her own YouTube channel when she was studying for a sociology degree at university. She won YouTuber of the Year at the PrettyLittleThings influencer awards in 2020.

Rose then broke into mainstream TV when she landed the role of host on the UK version of dating reality docuseries Catfish on MTV in 2022. Her most high-profile TV appearance was in the jungle in 2023, during which she accused fellow campmate Nigel Farage of wanting people like her “gone” from the UK.

Nella Rose's debate with Nigel Farage while in the jungle was top news at the time. (ITV)
Nella Rose's debate with Nigel Farage while in the jungle was top news at the time. (ITV)

In a high-profile row, Rose said to Farage “apparently you’re anti-immigrants”, which she said she read about on the internet. As they both stood in the bath area of the camp, Rose asked: “Why don’t black people like you?”

Farage said: “You’d be amazed, they do,” to which Rose replied: “So everyone hates you for no reason?” Farage replied: “You can disagree with somebody, but to chuck around accusations the way they’ve been chucked around is grossly unfair.

“Anti-immigrant, right? No, no, all I’ve said is we cannot go on with the numbers coming to Britain that are coming.”

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