French Burkini Ban: Are You For or Against It?

french burkini ban
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FRENCH BURKINI BAN: The burkini is a three piece outfit made from polyester. It covers the body from head to ankle. The burkini leaves the face, hands and feet uncovered. It was created by Australian Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti. She believed that there was a gap in the market when it came to modest sportswear for Muslim women, especially Muslim swimwear. The Islamic swimming suit coincides with the strict code of Islamic dress requirements. It was approved by the Grand Mufti of Australia.

The burkini is banned in public French swimming pools because it’s seen as unhygienic. It has never been banned elsewhere in France till now. The Mayor of Cannes has pushed a regulation against right to swim in a burkini on the French Riviera.  The ruling states: “Beachwear that ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attack, is liable to create risks of disputing public order”

Fifteen other French coastal towns have banned Islamic swimsuits including Nice, Villeneuve-Loubet and the island of Corsica. The Atlantic seaside town of Le Touquet is also planning on banning the burqini.  The penalty is 38 Euros fine and removal from the beach.

Some believe that the burkini ban will decrease tension between Muslims and non Muslims whilst others believe that it will only add to the prejudice and discrimination of Muslims. Islamic dress and culture has been a hot issue in France, since its 2010 banning of the burqa or full face veils in public.

Are you for or against the French burkini ban in  Cote de Azure  towns?

Does a  French burkini ban preserve France’s secular policy or is it a sexist attack against Muslim women?

 Does a French burkini ban decrease tensions or does it inflame hostility and hatred against Islamic communities?

burkini french beach

Swimsuits for Muslim Women

 

ARGUMENTS FOR THE FRENCH BURKINI BAN:

  • “It ostentatiously displays religious affiliation and has the potential to disrupt public order and demonstrate an allegiance to terrorist movements”- Cannes mayor David Linsard.
  • A justifiable move considering all the Islamic based terrorist attacks that have occurred in France including Charlie Thredbo, Paris, Nice, and the beheading of a priest in Rouen.
  • This move will “upset Muslims”. Why are we so concerned about upsetting Muslims? There does not seem to be this kind of concern regarding potentially offending any other religious group.
  • The burkini belongs to an old misogynistic belief system where a woman’s worth is measured by her modesty. It is virtually saying that a woman cannot feel the natural elements of the beach (water, wind, sand, pebbles) on her body. It also declares that the female form is scandalous and shameful.
  • Theocratic regimes in the Middle East not only dictate on how people ought to dress and behave in public, they criminalize certain items of clothing.  France does its best to keep religious symbolism out of public life.
  • The French court has upheld the rule in favour of Cannes mayor Linsard, largely due to the spate of recent terror tacks in France, and in particular, the South. The judge stated “the wearing of distinct clothing, other than that usually worn for swimming, can be indeed only be interpreted in this context as  a straight forward symbol of religiosity”
  • Women’s right minister Laurence Rossignol stated that “The burkini has a goal. The goal is to hide women’s bodies and ultimately, to hide women…..there is something profoundly archaic about it”
  • It is not a religious requirement. It’s a cultural requirement hiding behind religion. The ban is not unreasonable  because the garment is strictly designed to align with Sharia law requirements.  Sharia law should not be practised in public in a country like France. The cultural belief behind the garment is that it’s intended to “protect” Islamic women from lecherous and sexually aggressive men who are not their husbands. Only husbands are allowed to see what’s underneath. It’s an absurd and vile view of men and women.
  • The beach ban does not only target Muslims. It would also target Orthodox Jewish women who insist on bathing in full religious attire.
  • The burkini ban fits in with Article 1 of the French constitution: Laicite. It formally states that France is a secular republic. Therefore, this item, (be it a religious requirement or cultural practise hiding behind and influenced by religion) does not fit into this core constitutional concept.

 

ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE FRENCH BURKINI BAN:

  • France is virtually demonising a wet suit. There is very little difference between that and a burkini. Back in the 50s, the bikini was not acceptable in mainstream society. The Catholic Church disapproved and bans were implemented in many states of the US as well as in Spain, Australia, Italy and Portugal. We forget this because the bikini was not surrounded by political and religious controversy.
  • French officials claim that they are trying to decrease Islamic extremist behaviour. This ban will only alienate and offend moderate Muslims, which can lead to increased tensions that officials claim to want to avoid.
  • The burkini does not conflict with French law which outlaws face veil coverings. The face is clearly visible, which does not pose the security threats that outlaw the burqa.
  • The burkini ban forces women to choose between their religion and their national identity. The ban heavily implies that wearing a burkini is a political statement and an attack against France, which is a mass assumption. While Sharia Law should not be tolerated or permitted, France can handle differences in dress.
  • Logically, the french burkini ban should mean that all religious clothing should be banned in public. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen. It probably won’t which means that this legislation is a direct attack against Muslims only.
  • The burkini is more or less the swimsuit equivalent of the hijab. Yet the hijab is only banned in government schools and public sector work places. Hijabs are not banned on the shores of these coastal towns nor the coastal towns. So the burkini ban does not make any sense.
  • A burkini is great protection against the harmful rays of the sun. No need to worry about skin cancer or heat stroke as long as one doesn’t forget to apply sun screen on their face.
  • The designer describes the outfit as a symbol of freedom, confidence and healthy living. It’s an empowering choice of clothing. Furthermore, not all women who wear the burkini are Muslim. Non Muslim women have purchased the item due to health reasons or due to self conscious body reasons.
  • It is a sexist attack against women and is yet another attempt to remove them from public life.
  • The burkni could be seen as a liberal move against Islamic cultural repression of females. In Muslim nations women would never go to the beach with men, and certainly would not swim because the burkini sticks to a woman’s body, revealing curves. Islamic women attending the beach in a burkini, with men or without, is a step forward towards social progression.

 

nigella lawson burkini

Non Muslim Nigella Lawson in  a burkini during an Australian holiday. Lawson wears it for health and aesthetic purposes. 

I was rather shocked by the French burkini ban. I certainly do understand the fear that France must be feeling. It makes perfect sense to be fearful, considering the Islamic based terrorist attacks on Thredbo, Paris, Nice and Louen. However, I think knee jerk reaction has led to this ruling. It’s not well thought out nor is it logical.

The 2010 ruling against the burqa was completely justified in my opinion. I had no issues with that due to the valid security concerns. It’s also not a religious requirement; It’s a cultural religious inspired practise. Veils covering faces in public is incompatible with the concept of Laicite. It also goes against what France deems to be culturally acceptable when it comes to human/women’s rights. I believe a country has the right to legislate on public cultural practises that it feels are unfit or significantly incompatible as long as they can justify it. They justified the burqa ban well. However the burkini ban is a fail.

It is simply a move based on fear, especially due to the terrorist attack in Nice where 85 people were killed. I do not agree that it is a sexist move against women; I think it’s a general move against the Muslim population and it’s completely political. They have virtually banned a wet suit. A woman could easily slip into a wet suit  and swimming cap and be legally free to wear it and she, more or less, achieves the modesty that she is seeking. However, a good deal of her neck would be exposed.

There are also cold water full body wet suits that look exactly like a burkini, yet are not officially a burkini. Could they be worn instead? It does not cover the face so there is no issue with security. It is a swim suit version of the hijab, yet there is no ruling against the hijab apart from bans in government public schools and public sector work places.

If France’s goal is to remove items of clothing from the beach that signify religious/religious based cultural faith, then they would have to ban everything that falls into this category.  Logic states that this would have to be a blanket public ban all together, not just at the beach. It does not make sense to have one set of rules for the beach but not in other aspects of public life.

 

cold water wet suits

Cold water wet suits are exactly like the burkini. Some come with a veil. Could a Muslim woman get away with wearing this item? 

If you allow the hijab in most other places of public then there should be no issue with the burkini. The burkini does not increase Islamic extremist behaviour. If anything, the burkini is a small step towards Islamic women being more liberal when it comes to outdoors activities. It encourages further integration into society, this specific ruling causes a further degree of separation between Muslims and non Muslims. I don’t say this because I am fearful of critical thought against Islamic cultural practises. I am not trying to be politically correct. I’m just looking at the situation with as much logic as I can.

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4 comments

  1. Les femme europènne dans leur pays,son oubligè a se habiller,comme ils veulent,ici en europe leur femme doit se habiller comme notre femme.Ils faux que ils aprenne que la bas dans le desert c’est la loi rèligieuse,ici CHEZ NOUS c’est les politiciens qui font les lois,pas la rèligions.LA FRANCE OU ON L’AIME OU ON LA QUITTE

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    1. @charlesmatos Thank you for your response. It’s an interesting topic. I think that the burkini ban is not a well thought out decision. It is illogical because it is a swimsuit version of the hijab. The hijab is not banned (except in government schools and government based offices, as are all religious symbols). It makes no sense to me to ban the burkini on the beach, but not ban the hijab overall. I understand that France is very concerned right now about Islamic terrorist attacks, and they have every right to be. But this decision doesn’t help. France has the freedom of religion, so in that case, the burkini should be allowed. The burqa is another matter.

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