Just say the French governments decision to allow individual places to impose clothing bans on beaches was made with the intention to protect the individual concerned, and not a discriminatory practise. Let’s say that they believe these women are likely to recieve verbal or physical abuse from others on the beach – wouldn’t it have made more sense to declare that religiously incited abuse would be punishable in a severe manner? Wouldn’t it have made sense to remove the risk of violence, not just remove the women from the beach? When the ban against the burka was enacted in Paris, one of the arguements given was that women were forced to wear such coverings and banning the wearing of them in public would prevent such domestic abuse. The sad irony to this arguement was that even were it the case that a woman was forced to cover her body, she’d only be required to do so outside; the ban would essentially prevent her from leaving the house and the same will happen will a burkini ban: Muslim women will be forced from -are being forced from – the beach. Whether that’s a result of them refusing to uncover simply to spend time on the sand or following scenes like the one reported yesterday, the result and consequences are the same: Muslim women are not welcome there.
The only lightness I feel in this is that at least with the burkini ban the government hasn’t pretended to plead liberation, but isn’t it high time someone started officially owning and declaring Islamaphobia? It would certainly make fighting it easier, because fighting something people will go to lengths to deny exists at all levels of society and politics makes finding a solution impossible. We need to be moving the conversation forward..but not just in France, and not just in a one-sider manner either.
If as Muslims we want non-islamic countries to accept our religious practises, we need to show non-Muslims/Muslims practising in different ways the same respect in Muslim countries and not force adherance to percieved religious prescriptions. Though own an abaya I might, I still resent the idea of having to wear one to visit certain countries and I certainly don’t want my family forced to do so were we to choose to go and live in one of them. Religious tolerance, like feminism, wont move forward while we see the other as the other and place our status’ higher than theirs; and if you truly believe in God, whichever religion you follow, surely you believe it’s YOUR actions you are judged by not the actions of others around you?
The way I see it neither religion or secularism are the problems, it’s just a misunderstanding of what these mean. As the year wears on and the more the world seems to loose the plot, the more my appreciation for this country grows. Islamaphobia may still exist but it’s a heck of a lot easier being part of the majority than being a minority in western countries seems increasingly to be. And here whether I choose to burkini or bikini it up, there’s a beach respecting my rights to do so.