The recent legislative ban on the Burkini in France caused an uproar in the international community. We decided to reach out to our bloggers and asked them to voice their opinions on the matter.
Read on to find out what they had to say.
Rahul Dua: Hear me out – Why the burkini ban is blown way out of proportion.
Okay, let me preface the following discussion by saying that I am just trying to play the Devil’s advocate here. It doesn’t really matter what I think or say, or anyone else for that matter.
It’s really up to the French to do as they deem fit. They have every right to protect and preserve their culture. They are not obligated to change their views or accommodate ideology that they perceive to be going against their traditions.
Firstly, it is important to contextualize the recent legislation. Terrorist attacks in France have increased substantially during the recent months. Emotions are running wild in the country and good legislation is never really a good product of emotionally charged thinking.
However, France and by extension, the people living in France have a right to legislate themselves, however they see fit. Every country does. If India can ban beef and Saudi Arabia can ban free speech, then why can’t France stand up for their beliefs?
To begin with, the ban is only in effect in Nice, not at the federal level. To a larger extent, the ban is simply a group of locals standing together, in light of the recent horrific events, trying to protect their secular identity and culture that has been in place since ages.
The burka and burkini are not just mere articles of clothing; they take on a life of their own and represent an object of generational oppression against women. The primal message being that a culture that historically subjugates women and is constantly clashing against the prevalent ideas of the western world has no place in the modern French society.
The burkini represents a symbol of immigrants refusing to acclimate and becoming a part of the French society. They weren’t forced to move to the country; they chose to enter a new culture. France wants to achieve a cohesive society as opposed to smaller “bubbles” of counter-culture residing among the people. Is that such a bad proposition?
The burkini and burka can be compared with the Nazi symbolism. It is illegal to flaunt and wear the “Swastika” in Germany. Does it infringe on a person’s freedom to wear whatever they wish– Yes. But it also goes against what the modern German society stands for and tolerates.
The ban is attacking the ideology behind the use of burkini in the first place. If an act or an idea is intended to infringe on rights of the people, then France is not obligated to tolerate it and simply “go along” with it in the veil of freedom of religion.
For the French, the idea of general freedom rights takes precedence against the notion of religious liberty, just as its assimilationist tradition has been for ages. France is not a melting pot of cultures like Canada or United States, it has always been a tight-knit union. The law is not oppressive for Muslims, it is just a stance against tolerating intolerance.
Brinda Sen: I have a lot of hard feelings against the burkini ban.
First, they banned it, then the unbanned it. What’s with the world trying to control what women want to wear?
It’s a shame that a country which boasts to be the biggest progenitor of feminism is telling women how to dress lawfully. No, this is not an issue of corrective measures to curb coercion enforced on by religious diktats. This is an issue of a personal choice being compromised.
This ban serves more of a political interest than a real humanitarian one. I do realize that several Muslim women who are culturally conditioned to cover their bodies might feel secretly overjoyed at the prospect of sunbathing in regular swimsuits. But the problem with burkini ban is not about the burkini itself; it’s about politicizing a woman’s body.
The problem is what the word burqa connotes in burkini. A full body swim suit named otherwise would not have caused a scandal. This ban is baselessly Islamophobic.
The outrage happens when a woman is made to publicly strip layers of her clothing while being watched over by male police officers.
Tell me this; which natural right is she violating by wearing too many clothes at the beach?
Is being fully clothed at a beach so outrageous that it needs to be legally banned? What if a White non-Muslim French woman is wearing a burkini? If a Muslim diktat that forces the women to stay covered is oppressive, the French legislation to ban burkinis is a similar violation of freedom of choice.
One article from Independent asserts, “It seems that oppression is only when brown men tell you how to dress; when white men do it it’s called liberation.” I cannot help but agree. The Western society has had a long chartered history of systematically stigmatizing other native cultures which deviate from their ideas. They, therefore, pursue agendas that systematically suppress and obliterate them.
I am not a hypocrite when I appreciate the agenda of criminalizing Sati and child marriage in India by the British, and not this. They were necessary because no consenting woman would participate in them without being brainwashed or simply pushed in. No matter how White or how patriarchal the legislating body was, it was the humanitarian thing to do.
But when there is a stringent objection to what can be worn and what cannot be, it only reverberates a disgraceful anti-secular superiority complex. Secularism is as much about tolerance as it is about rejecting communal extremism.
Thus, the burkini ban hampers any feminist venture towards global equality. It’s petty, mean conservatism, and nothing of the ‘Liberty, Fraternity or Equality’ brand that the French historically have been champions of.
For more discussions, read on:
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.