Burkini Ban: How an Innocent Pun Became Another Way to Erase Muslim Women

The burkini.

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Thanks to burkinis, we have Muslim lifesavers.

One of the greatest inventions of our time; an active attempt by Muslims to integrate into society by allowing Muslim women to spend time on public beaches while being dressed in a way that makes them comfortable. A fashionable way for Muslim women to laze on the beach and swim around. A wet-suit merged with a cap and a little skirty thingy that covers ones nethers. Apparently; now a representation of radicalisation and terrorism (you can get the background here).

To be honest, I’ve been very confused by France’s burkini ban. Not because I’m surprised that France has yet again found a way to oppress Muslims – but because the logic is so appallingly flawed that it makes me wonder just how much some people are willing to lie to themselves about their motivations in order to achieve a racist endpoint.

Although France’s highest administrative court has suspended the ban because of how ridiculous it is, many who implemented the ban in the first place are stubbornly defending this decision.

The claim they make is that the burkini (which is actually nothing like a burqa and was clearly named that because of how punny it is) flies in the face of secularism and is reflective of oppressive religious views being forced onto society.

That’s just… how do I put this?

It’s a load of crap.

Essentially; rather than appreciate the fact that the burkini has allowed Muslim women to integrate into and participate in broader society, France has decided that they can’t deal with that.

Instead of seeing the benefits, French authorities decided the best way to prevent radicalisation is to prevent these Muslim women from being on the beach. To make these women feel like they don’t belong. To fine them for choosing to  dress a particular way and to have a particular faith. To embarrass them and scare them out of the civic eye. To remind them that they are different and don’t belong.

It’s insane. The ban fundamentally goes against everything we know about preventing radicalisation. We know that people don’t get radicalised if they feel like they belong. We know communities are more cohesive when people feel that they can be respect in public places. Somehow; these basic principles and freedoms are being ignored by the French.

And then Muslims are asked why they don’t integrate more.

Why does integration mean that we have to take our clothes off?

Amazingly, in the same breath these authorities have both claimed to  be saving the rights of women while stripping away the rights of women.

It’s just incredible how people think that Muslim women can’t speak for themselves. That we’re incapable of deciding what we’re going to wear. That we don’t have a voice.

We do. 

We always have.

If we want to wear bikinis – great. We should be able to. If we want to cover our entire bodies on the beach – great. We should be able to. It is crazy to me that in 2016, we are still talking about whether government has a right to decide how modest a woman’s dress should be.

Aman Ali said it well:

Let’s just hope that this ruling is overturned across the nation and that sanity prevails.

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8 comments

  1. Thank you, have read all the articles you have posted on utterly ridiculous ban but it’s great to hear your voice. I think that the WTFF (WTF France) twitter handle said it all – that obviously was the instinctive reaction of many people when they read about it. But apparently the French impulse to unveil has deep colonial roots (or so an article I read today said). Which makes me think the lacite concept is a bit like the 2nd amendment in the US – made sense in terms of the situation it emerged within, but no longer. They need to revisit it. In the meantime I’m trying not to become a Francophobe.

    • You’re welcome! It’s such a strange topic to have to write about because common sense and our sense of justice tell us that telling women to dress a particular way is oppressive.

      It’s easy for people to start taking legal principles that worked in one context and then manipulate and apply them in oppressive ways – it’s the way that terrorist organisations operate also.

      Amen!

  2. […] Forcing these women to take off whichever covering they wear will do nothing to help their plight. It will only make matters worse. Imagine what would happen when women who are forced to cover up when they go out are not allowed to cover up any more. How many trips out of the house do you think they would make? How many beaches would they go to (read more about France’s burkini ban here)? […]

  3. I have the exact same burkini as Aman Ali! I am a new revert for about a year and a half and before I became a Muslim I almost never went to the beach/pool/etc. because I never felt comfortable walking around in something that felt less covering than underwear. Luckily, the burkini happened. Honestly, if I would have known about the burkini even before I became a Muslim I would have worn it. I think they are great. Plus no more sunburns! Well except my forehead…. I absolutely love swimming now.

    • Get some sunscreen on! Haha!

      I am so glad to hear that you’re feeling comfortable. If only people realised that Muslim women would stop being out in public if we were suddenly stripped of our right to dress modestly!

  4. I just recently discovered your blog, and am considering dressing more modestly with a hijab, although I am a white Christian. There is only one problem, the people at my school. I am in 8th grade, and certain people will definitely ridicule me if I start to wear a hijab. What should I do? And where can I get a burkini?

    • Hi Grace

      Thanks for your message! I think you should feel free to dress however you want to. In these situations, I would love to give you better words of advice, but unfortunately, because I’m not a part of your personal life, that’s very difficult. I would recommend that you speak to a teacher that you trust who can help you to decide, or speak to your parents. I’m sure they would understand your desire to dress modestly. Let me know if I can help you any further.

    • I believe it’s a late reply, but anyways. Don’t care what people think. People always have a hard time to understand or accept something they are not used to see. So, relax and do what you like, girl, as long as it’s not harming you or others. Hope that helps.

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