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Quebecers chime in on burkini debate

WATCH ABOVE: The burkini swimsuit has been making headlines around the world. Last week a court in France overturned a controversial burkini ban. As Felicia Parrillo reports, now people across Quebec are chiming in on the debate.

Tucked behind a small museum on the South Shore, photographs of women in bikinis are sprawled across a fence.

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According to the museum, the exhibition called “BIKINI-NI BURKINI-NI” was built to display the evolution of the bikini and also, to prove why the burkini is a regression.

“She [the founder] found that we’re not progressing in time, we’re really coming back to the swimsuit that was in the 1870s,” explained Stephanie Pepin, a volunteer at Musée De La Femme.
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While the exhibition was on display long before the controversy in France, the museum says they’re not surprised to hear about the decision to ban the burkini and they agree with it.

READ MORE: French PM supports local bans of burkini swimsuits

But not all women in Quebec seem to agree.

A Montreal YouTuber – known simply as Davison – created a video that she calls a social experiment.

Davison sits at her desk typing. Friday, Sept. 2, 2016
Davison sits at her desk typing. Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 Noemie Cabana/Global News

She asked three women to try on a burkini and her camera captured their natural reactions.

Davison said she made the video to send a message.

“It’s islamophobia to ban the burkini,” she said. “You’re denying women who are trying to integrate into a new society the opportunity to exercise, enjoy themselves and live a normal life.”

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READ MORE: France’s top court strikes down burkini ban

Since its release over a week ago, the video’s racked up over 35,000 views.

Davison said she wanted to show the burkini in a different light.

“I think it normalizes the burkini,” said Davison. “It is just a piece of swimwear – we’re turning it into this symbol of radical islam, when it’s not.”

Designer and store owner, Mariem Mezlini, is on the same page.

She creates and sells burkinis in Montreal and says there’s no link between radical Islam and the burkini.

READ MORE: CAQ backtracks on burkini ban, still aims to ban authority figures from wearing religous symbols

“Usually, the extremists people won’t wear a burkini, won’t go in the water with pants, or they won’t participate to go in swimsuits with mixed women here in Canada,” she said.

Mezlini is adamant that the burkini is a personal choice and not a form of oppression.

“We have to let people choose what they want to wear,” she said. ” If they want to try it, go into the water and feel comfortable that’s fine. If they don’t like it, that’s fine too. Personally, I like it, I am comfortable, so I’d like to have the choice to wear it when I want.”

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