This is an image that’s been circulated throughout Social Media since the article was published about French Police force a Muslim woman to remove her Burkini whilst on a public beach. The excuse being she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.
Now, lets take that into context for a moment. Although France does not have any religious involvement in Government affairs (laïcité) secularism in France is seen as exactly that, no religious involvement on a political spectrum. Not something many people would argue with. However, in recent times France has become a nation rife with racial abuse of immigrants, and indeed nationals if they’re affiliated with a particular religion, and certainly Islam is no exception.
In 2010 France made the decision to ban face coverings, which included the Burkha, now kudos to them for including all face coverings to many the act is seen as an attack on Muslim women who choose to wear that particular attire. Now the argument over the Burkha is as far as it is wide with many voices claiming it’s against womens rights that they’re forced to wear such an attire to those claiming it’s freedom of expression and there’s certainly merits to both arguments. While most would agree that some women are forced to dress this way it ignores the fact that others choose to, and of course in the western world we would see that as a fundamental right. So, what’s the problem here?
Well, one problem is is that we’re unaccustomed to people dressing this way, we’re raised from very young to accept that we dress in a particular way, we speak with our faces and when confronted with the Burkha we’re confronted with something completely alien to us, so we get defensive and demand from those women who choose to the Burkha to remove that clothing in favour of what we demand. So much for equal rights!
However, the Burkini ban is something else, and France has gone a step further than is quite honestly sensible. Here is a Burkini:
Here is a full body wetsuit:
And here is what was the height of beach fashion approximately 100 years ago:
Now, I’m not sure about you, but I’m not seeing the problem, and the only difference I can see here is the skin colour of the woman wearing the Burkini. To suggest that the outfit isn’t “respecting good morals” is quite honestly insulting to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, especially when those around her were semi-naked!
However, this behaviour is not something new in France, and with the rise of notorious right wing elements such as the Front National this kind of behaviour from its government will very likely increase. Racism in France has been recorded from the times of the height of the slave trade and again during the 19th Century with the rise of anti-semitism highlighted by the notorious Dreyfus Affair. The Vichy Regime during the Second World War again highlighted the anti-semitic mood in the country during that time, under the rule of Nazi Germany Jewish people were once again oppressed through the collaboration of Philippe Pétain’s government with the Nazis.
Now there’ll be those who will say that (in relation to Islam) that it’s not a race issue as Islam is not a race. Those saying that would technically be correct, Islam is a religion, however Muslims are a race and there are numerous forms of racism and religious racism is certainly something coming forward more in western countries.
With more recent troubles concerning terrorist acts in Europe from extremist groups it is more crucial than ever not to judge everyone by the same book. Just because someone dresses a certain way, or prays a different way it should not make them an object for derision. We in the west should learn to accept that there are many cultures in the world and that we live in a multicultual world, with many countries being borne from multicuturalism, France and UK being two.
So with this in mind, what’s the problem with the Burkini? Well the actual answer is nothing. The problem here is that France would appear to have an issue with Muslims and have done for a long time, long before extremist attacks in their country this is an issue that goes far back, likely further than their occupation of Algeria, a Muslim Country. However, this is a clearly deep rooted issue.
So does France have a problem with racism? It probably will take a lot more than a single blog post to answer that but it still raises the question, why ban the Burkini?