Target: Olivier Majewicz, Mayor of Oye-Plage, France
Goal: Don’t ban “burkinis,” full body swimwear for Muslim women.
Several towns and resorts in France have banned the wearing of “burkinis,” body-covering swimwear typically worn by Muslim women. The town of Oye-Plage is set to join the ban. Sign the petition denouncing this sexist, discriminatory policy.
Many Muslim women stay covered out of modesty, and France, a deeply secular nation, has a contentious relationship with Muslim women’s garments, often labeling them as declarations of extremism. Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said burkinis are “not compatible with the values of France and the Republic,” and added that they are “the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.” This narrow-minded statement firstly ignores the fact that many women choose to dress modestly of their own volition, and secondly frames the simple wearing of swimwear as a political act aimed at “religious proselytizing,” as one politician put it.
Tensions are high in France; the nation has suffered a string of attacks in the past year perpetrated by the Muslim extremist group Islamic State (IS). However, IS is not representative of or supported by the general Muslim population. For example, IS has attacked practicing Muslims during religious holidays. Conflating IS with all Muslims is discriminatory, nonsensical, and morally reprehensible.
In addition to accusations of extremism, some politicians have offered “hygienic concerns” as justification for the burkini ban. While this argument could conceivably make sense in an enclosed structure like a public pool, it doesn’t hold water when applied to sea-bathing. It would be difficult to somehow contaminate an entire ocean’s worth of water with an “unhygienic” swimsuit. If the officials are referring to the personal hygiene issues that can result from wearing wet clothing too long, the women in question are adults fully capable of monitoring their own health and hygiene.
The burkini ban is not an upholding of secular values; it is a targeted attack on Muslim women. Sign the petition and urge that Oye-Plage not to go through with its ban.
Dear Mayor Majewicz,
I am writing to express my disappointment in your consideration of a ban on “burkinis,” the full-body swimwear worn by many Muslim women. Such a ban is discriminatory and unnecessary, and I strongly urge you to reconsider the ban.
Burkinis have been called “the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.” While that description may apply to extremist groups like Islamic State, it hardly applies to all Muslims. Many Muslim women choose to adopt modest dress as an expression of their religious beliefs. Prohibiting their peaceful expression of their religion is not the act of a fair and secular state; it is the blatant targeting of Muslim women who simply want to go swimming.
Many of the burkini’s critics insist that is it “unhygienic.” While this might be a persuasive argument if the debate was over public pools or other enclosed swimming structures, the controversy has so far been restricted to the ocean. How does a full-body swimming outfit pose more of a risk to public health and hygiene than the trash, pollution, and possible excrement (both human and animal) that one might encounter at a beach?
Finally, a ban on the public wearing of burkinis would force Muslim women who wear them to restrict their public activities and do all their swimming in private, behind closed doors, which sounds eerily similar to the oppressive “enslavement” many politicians claim to be protecting them from.
I urge you to allow grown adult women to make their own decisions regarding swimwear. Please do not enact a ban on burkinis.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Landahlauts