FRANCE’S BURKINI BAN: Pointless Or Pointless?
Nusrat Jahan Progga
Imagine spending a nice sunny day at the beach. You are there with your family and you are carrying some snacks in a basket. You sit down on the sand and right beside you is another family just like yours- laughing, eating, having fun. The only difference between that family and yours is the outfits you wear. Now, it should not really matter what they are wearing when they are spending a nice relaxing day out on the beach, right? It would not make a significant difference if the mother trying to manage her hyperactive toddlers was wearing a t-shirt and pants instead of a bikini, but God forbid she covers up her head too!
The Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, believes that burkinis are a “symbol of Islamic extremism” and might cause some havoc as France has become a target of terrorist attacks.
While the government of France is banning Burkinis as if what they covered were not locks of hair but weapons of mass destruction, most of the sensible people are well aware that the only sort of “destruction” that will most likely take place on the beach is the demolition of sand castles. What is ironic and slightly humorous about the issue is that it is completely okay for a fully clothed policeman to walk up to a burkini wearing woman and ask her to change into something more revealing or otherwise pay a $42 fine.
Ayesha Ziauddin, a British Muslim interviewed by BBC asked “How is a woman on a beach swimming in a wetsuit with her head covered a symbol of Islamic terrorism?” Well, yours truly has just the right answer to this question- it’s not! In actuality, the passing of this outrageously sexist law is nothing but an Islamophobic attack on Muslim women and an act that violates their freedom of expression.
Perhaps, Cannes Mayor David Lisnard needs a reality check as to how his ban on burkinis is not really, in any way, aiding in the burgeoning fight against extremism but is just another unnecessary step taken by the government to ensure the isolation of the Muslim community from that of the others.
As if the situation was not ironic or humorous enough, Mayor Lisnard actually went on to say that the ban was passed to protect women. “If a women goes swimming in a burkini, that could draw a crowd and disrupt public order,” he explained “It is precisely to protect this women that I took this decision”. Yours truly has a few things to say about this-
First of all, what the mayor’s words roughly translates to is “I will end discrimination/oppression by being more discriminatory/oppressive”. He seems to have this absurd idea that the only way to protect women is to restrict them from wearing whatever they want instead of monitoring and placing laws on people who would harass these women and cause public disturbances. Then again, where is the fun if you are not targeting the innocent and not doing anything about the actual troublemakers?
Then there is the mayor’s ardent concern on how burkinis may “draw a crowd and disrupt public order”. The question to ask here is how will the people even know? Because burkinis and similar clothing are also worn by some Orthodox Jewish women and others who are not comfortable with wearing skimpy beachwear. On the other hand, as if the irony was not enough already, burkinis are an almost exact replica of wetsuits, but a law prohibiting men from wearing wetsuits is yet to be established.
Also, even though the mayor believes that burkinis will draw a crowd, a ban on burkinis has actually given rise to backlash from both the national and international community. The French people, experts, and even the media are in disagreement with the Mayor. Not long after the ruling, Le Monde pointed out that “The law on the full-face veil only bans covering the face in public… The burkini, which covers the body but does not hide the face, is thus a totally legal garment.”
Lastly, if David Lisnard is so scared of crowds, then he might as well ban celebrities or public figures from entering the beach as well. With that being said, I cannot help but include the fun fact that non-Muslim British celebrity- chef Nigella Lawson was also spotted once on the beach of Cannes wearing-yes you guessed it right-a burkini!
All of this makes me wonder if it would have actually been better if the mayor had just said he was afraid of Muslim women instead of slapping everyone in the face with some freshly baked hypocrisy.
In 2011, France became the first country in Europe to ban the burqa and the niqab, and now the country has targeted the burkini. Now one can only hope that the bans are not indicating a slippery slope of far worse laws to come.