altM EIC, Asma Uddin, discusses the burkini ban in The New York Times

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.”

These explanations may seem ludicrous, but Mr. Valls and Mr. Lisnard perfectly summed up the two contradictory public order rationales that European courts all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights use when dealing with Muslim women in religious garb. According to Europe’s highest court of human rights, Muslim women in head scarves and burqas are simultaneously victims, in need of a government savior, and aggressors, spreading extremism merely by appearing Muslim in public.


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  • Aaaliyah says:

    “The burkini is the uniform of extremist Islamism, not of the Muslim religion.”… a non-Muslim white male wants to school me on what it means to be a Muslim and a woman. Can anyone see how misogynistic this attitude is? Every single article I’ve read about this issue is typically an argument that panders to white European fear and white European discomfort. Hijab is discussed purely from a Eurocentric saviour context. Rarely is the point of view of Muslim women heard. Its demeaning and makes us voiceless. I don’t wear the hijab but I think its pretty condescending when people demand justifications for modest dressing. Do these proponents of the ban ask women in bikinis and other forms of undress to justify their dress codes? No, why? Because its an accepted human right in the democratic world that women have rights over their own bodies and that extends to what they wear. France should just be honest and give up this ridiculous farce. Its not interested in giving power to Muslim women. It wants to make us invisible because the French are “uncomfortable” by the presence of its brown-skinned population.

  • Red Baron says:

    @AAALIYAH, please don’t make this an issue about race because it is not. It is about a country exercising it’s secular authority on how it’s residents should adhere to their culture and traditions. I’m sure you have heard of the popular saying: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well this is France exercising their secular authority and dictating a dress code, whether it is moral or not. It’s the same thing when non-Muslim women are in Saudi Arabia–the Saudi government exercises their secular authority to dictate what women will wear in public.

    So if you are upset with France banning burkinis on the beach and taking away your freedom, you should likewise be upset with other countries that impose a dress code on women without tolerance for choice namely, Saudi Arabia. It would be bias on our part if we said of the burkini issue that it is not acceptable for one country to ban it while at the same time agreeing with another country that restricts a woman’s choice. I know, it’s unfair and no matter how you look at it, it’s a highly sensitive issue that will continue to cause friction between governments and marginalized groups.

    And just for the record, I don’t feel that religious garb is appropriate anywhere in public. I don’t like the appearance it gives that one is more religious/spiritual than another. I am a devout Christian and I can live my faith without broadcasting to the world what religious affiliation I belong just by how I dress. One can dress modestly with plain clothing and I feel the same way about Nuns who wear habits, Priests who wear frocks, Sikhs who wear turbans, or any other religious group. Oh by the way, I am not a Muslim but I am a woman of color.

    So if a country wants to exercise their secular authority they have a right to do so.

  • Aaaliyah says:

    Red Baron, you haven’t addressed a single point of my argument. Saying that this is not a race issue because I, a woman of colour, doesn’t think so – is a weak defence. Being a person of colour does not lend validity to your view. Especially when you haven’t brought forth a single argument to back up your statement. In fact, Arabs and North Africans in France have complained about racial discrimination for decades and have suffered for it with their identity often being belittled as the “other”, Let’s take some of the points that you mentioned. First S. Arabia is not a secular country as you claim but a Wahhabist theocracy. For a democratic secular nation to emulate such a nation is surely the lowest of the low. If we say France can do that to Muslims because S. Arabia does it to non-Muslims and Muslims in general, then France is not a democracy. Also your eyes are misleading you because nowhere have I said that i support S. Arabia’s stance on women so you are over-reaching yourself. Then there’s the whole cliched ” do as the Romans do” Nice try, but the expression is totalitarian in nature. Does the State reserve the right to dictate how “Roman” a person should be? Does France have a right to decide what kind of specific behaviour makes a Frenchman from what you wear to what or how you eat, and should a country have the right to dictate every aspect of your life. When does the secular nation become a dictatorship? Third, there’s alot “I” in your argument – you feel, you think, etc. Its nice that you are devout in your faith and just because you choose to dress in a certain way that makes you comfortable does not mean that its comfortable for someone else to dress the same way. The benefit of living in a democracy is freedom of choice, not freedom from choice. In short, people have a right to choose what they want to wear in a democratic society be they nuns, priests, etc. And just because you don’t think so doesn’t make your “equal opportunity hating” acceptable. Any country which attempts to control women’s bodies (especially minority women groups) cannot call themselves democratic or lay claim to protecting minorities.

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