Muslim women and allies let loose a cheer today when France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, overturned the ban that had been imposed in 26 of the country’s beach towns and cities, after public outrage culminated in a fever pitch when news articles and photos circulated of armed French police standing over a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice, ordering her to remove her tunic to comply with the beach’s burkini ban
France endured nearly a month of national and international scrutiny and outrage starting with the mayor of Cannes banning the burkini, a full-coverage swimsuit worn by some Muslim women (and others who are not Muslim) from its beaches. The ban, imposed in the name of France’s sacred ideal of secularism, began with the argument that the burkini, representing Muslim modesty, was oppressing to women and impeded their rights, in a republic where liberty, equality and fraternity reigns supreme.
Consider this for a moment – France touts itself as the champion of liberty, equality and fraternity. And yet several French cities saw fit to police women’s rights to choose what they wanted to wear. Whereas decades ago women fought for the right to uncover and wear bikinis, now many were fighting for the right to cover.
I’ve been a proud owner and wearer of a burkini for six years now, and it has given me immense freedom to go where I want to go and do what I want to do, especially to be in the water with my eldest son, who is autistic and a big fan of oceans and pools. Modesty is important to me. It’s important to many women, Muslim and not Muslim. Avoiding harmful UV rays is important to others. Still others have skin conditions that require them to avoid the sun.
At the end of the day – my body, my choice.
How lovely, that France’s high court understood all this. How infuriating that it had to come to this. And to be sure – it’s far from over, this burkini ban. Here are five other things we all should take away from these weeks of burkini madness.
Next: Freedom for women or not?