An Italian imam had his Facebook account blocked after indirectly criticizing recents bans on “burqinis” by posting an uncaptioned photo of seven Catholic nuns , covered head to toe by their traditional habits and veils, enjoying a beach by the sea. 

“I just wanted to get people to stop and and think. That’s why I posted the photo alone, without writing a single word,” explained the imam , a Florentine by the name of Izzedin Elzir. “I didn’t want to take sides but rather to spur a healthy debate.”

Burqinis, a form of full-body swimwear designed for use by conservative Muslim women, have been banned in recent days by as many as 15 towns in France — Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, has gone so far as to call the garment “not compatible with the values of France.” Far right Italians have also called for banning the burqini , but Elzir, who also serves as president of Ucoii, an umbrella organization for the country’s Muslim communities, noted that nobody seemed to have a problem with Christian nuns going to the beach fully covered by their religious garments.

His post showing the nuns playing by the sea went viral on Wednesday and was widely reported by local media. To Elzir’s suprise, however, his entire page was taken down by Facebook on Friday — ostensibly because of a report that his profile was fake. “The whole incident seemed very strange to me,” said Elzir. “Do people really block an account just because some falsely claims it’s a fake one? I cannot help but think it had something to do with the picture I posted and the buzz it created.”

While some have claimed that Elzir’s post may have been mistaken as a threat against the Catholic clergy, those accounts are at odds with Elzir’s sterling reputation as an ambassador of interfaith dialogue. Originally a Palestinian from Hebron, Ezlir was awarded the Golden Florin in 2014, alongside Florence’s archbishop and chief rabbi. The Golden Florin is Florence’s highest prize for community service.

COURTESY WOMEN IN THE WORLD