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Fear and Loathing in France

The furore around the Burkini ban refuses to go away quietly. And rightly so. Images of a Muslim woman surrounded by four police officers, clearly armed, went viral yesterday with reactions varying between outrage and out-f*cking-rage. The Burkini, a loosely fitted swimming garment covering the arms, legs and hair, has now earned itself the status of being a symbol of protest. I had been contemplating ordering one for myself to don while I take a stroll down a beach in the south of France just to stick up two fingers at the French authorities but I just remembered I own a full body wet suit (cast aside in the loft somewhere) plus a swim cap.

burkini ban

The more you dwell on what it is the French have tried to ban, the more ludicrous the whole situation becomes. Last year I travelled to Paris with my son to show solidarity with the French following the Charli Hebdo atrocity, whereas now I am considering travelling to protest against French law. What a difference a year and a bit makes.

If the French authorities think that a Burkini ban on French public beaches will lead to better integration and assimilation by Muslim women into French society, they are most definitely deluded. It will do the opposite. It will only drive Muslim women back behind doors and away from public sight and further alienate a sub group that is already very much alienated, isolated and under-represented in public spaces.

If we look at the image of the woman asked to remove her hijab yesterday in isolation it is clear that she is NOT wearing a Burkini; rather she is wearing a long tunic, leggings and a headscarf. The last I checked, wearing a headscarf with leggings and a tunic at a beach was not against the law in France. But the way the police have reacted it would seem that a long lost relative of Osama Bin Laden had turned up!

Newsflash: if this poor woman had been a relative of Bin Laden, there is no way on earth that she would be allowed to go out of the door, let alone to go to the beach. So well done, France, you’ve just managed to get yourself onto the same side of ISIS, al Qaida, the Taliban and every other Islamic group who have oppressed and controlled women during my living memory.

This incident will no doubt leave a searing reminder in the minds of Muslims living in France and other European countries who are busy passing legislation targeted at Muslim religious dress that it is ‘Us’ against ‘Them’. Always was and always will be.

The French authorities have not liberated women from the shackles of oppression and subjugation; they have merely changed the goalposts albeit under the ridiculous guise of ‘national security’. Muslim women are STILL being dictated to on what they can wear and not wear, this time by French legislative powers. Where is the freedom in that?

Other women who choose to wear religious/ modest dress to the beach are also being targeted, so this is not just a ban on the Burkini but a blatant exercise in racial profiling and discrimination against one religion: Islam.

The irony in this whole sorry mess is this: if the French believe that removal of the Burkini will keep the French people safe from further terrorist attacks, they are sorely mistaken.

That one image alone has provided those with ardent anti-West, anti-Colonist and anti-integration sentiments a field day; ‘look at how they strip our daughters and sisters of decency’, ‘we will never be accepted’, we will never be part of their world nor they ours.’ The more we have examples of Muslim women forced to strip in public and have to pay fines, the better the recruitment drive for ISIS and every other extremist organisation.

France will never taste peace unless she stops contributing to the problem; stop giving those hell bent on hating more reasons to hate.

Tags: France Women Muslim Burkini Beach Extremist ISIS

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