The brouhaha over a number of French towns’ banning the “burqini”, a whole body-covering women’s swimwear somewhat resembling a wetsuit, has caught the attention of news media in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany.
Banning the burqa is irrelevant to the fight Islamist fundamentalism and to the battle for the liberation of Muslim women. It would merely save us from having to look at them. What we should instead be doing is extending a helping hand to those who are suppressed in the form of language courses, neighborhood meetings or invitations for a coffee. We should be confident that our way of life is attractive enough that it encourages imitative forms of emancipation.
Asma T. Uddin in the New York Times:
Washington — Fifteen towns in France have issued bans on the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women and nicknamed the “burkini,” citing public order and security concerns. According to the ordinance in Cannes, “Beach attire that ostentatiously displays a religious affiliation, while France and places of worship are the target of terrorist acts, is likely to create risks to public order.”
How do pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a head covering made of swimsuit material threaten public safety?
According to France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, the suit is part of “the enslavement of women.” In a newspaper interview, the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, said: “The burkini is the uniform of extremist Islamism, not of the Muslim religion.”
Ben Quinn in the Guardian:
The Nice tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadi attacks in France.
The burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach,” and “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by” the community, it added.
The ruling by the state council, France’s highest administrative court, will provide a legal precedent for towns to follow around the country.
Over the period of the last two centuries the foundations of the modern French state have rested on a single French language, a single French culture, and secularism, laïcité. Rejecting the French language, conventional French dress, and French mores isn’t just a statement of preference. It’s a political statement and one that, from the point of view of many of the French, challenges the very basis of modern France.
Like it or not it is up to the French to decide what it means to be French. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere. Let France be France.