Don’t Ban Muslim Women from Wearing Full-Body Swimwear

Landahlaut - birkini

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.

PETITION LETTER:

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.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Landahlauts

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3 Comments

  1. Theresa Hughes says:

    Maybe a compromise on both sides would be worth looking into i can understand the womens wanting to remain modest of course i can also understand the part about hygiene issues what about spevially made swimsuits that cover just below the knee all one piece form fitting but with a skirt wrap covering the arms form fitting to just cover the elbows also could have skirting to cover upper body as well and for. Fitting head wear just a thought

  2. Gillian Miller Gillian Miller says:

    The argument was not over what the woman was wearing but that the local Muslim men closed a public beach and attacked locals who wanted to use it.

    As for modesty, yes, Muslim women are forced into such a position because Muslim men have absolutely no self control. Did you know that Mohammed explained how to have sex with a baby girl? And that the numbers of women/girls raped as well as sexually assaulted have shot through the roof in Europe? If Muslims want to come to Europe to live then they have to integrate with us not us accommodate them and a UK report has shown that they don’t. An example is that 1% of the American population is Muslim and 40% of all employment complaints are from them because they are asked to do their job. So, delivering alcohol which was part of their job was objected to, a flight attendant sold it for 2 years then suddenly decided she wouldn’t, they have to pray during the job even though it affects production in a factory etc etc. Sorry, am tired of their whingeing and whining over absolutely everything.

    • Gillian, I agree with you completely. We in the West are too tolerant in the name of political correctness. How has the multicultural paradise been working out for us?

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