The Horrible Hypocrisy of the Burkini Ban

Remember that French burkini ban I wrote about last week? It’s really happening. And now we have this fascinating (and horrifying) photo comparison:

The top picture, which dates from the early twentieth century, depicts a male official measuring women’s swimsuits to make sure they cover enough skin. The bottom picture, from Nice, France, this week, depicts a group of male police officers forcing a woman on a beach to strip, because she’s covering too much skin.

Because yes, French police have started enforcing burkini bans, making women to remove layers of clothing until they’re showing enough skin. How we went from forcing women to cover up to forcing them to strip is baffling, but the underlying reason is clear. These bans are born out of antipathy to Islam. From one incident:

A witness to the scene, Mathilde Cousin, confirmed the incident. “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police,” she said. “Her daughter was crying.”

And then there’s this:

Nuns on beach

Yet more nuns on beach

Still more nuns on the beach

In other words, the problem clearly isn’t the amount of skin that is covered. The problem is that burkinis are associated with Islam. At issue is not discrimination against a specific clothing style, but discrimination against a religion.

Oh, and would you believe we’ve even heard from the woman who invented the burkina? According to Aheda Zanetti, the burkini’s inventor, the garb “symbolises leisure and happiness and fitness and health.” As she explains:

When I invented the burkini in early 2004, it was to give women freedom, not to take it away. My niece wanted to play netball but it was a bit of a struggle to get her in the team – she was wearing a hijab. My sister had to fight for her daughter to play, had to debate the issue and ask, why is this girl prevented from playing netball because of her modesty?

. . .

So I sat down on my lounge room floor and designed something.

. . .

It was about integration and acceptance and being equal and about not being judged. It was difficult for us at the time, the Muslim community, they had a fear of stepping out. They had fear of going to public pools and beaches and so forth, and I wanted girls to have the confidence to continue a good life.

Click through to read the whole thing.

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