Non Burkinis


On August 26, France’s highest administrative court ruled that towns do not have the right to ban the burkini, in response to more than 30 French towns’ ban of the body covering swimwear. This ban follows France’s 2010 ban of the burqa, the traditional Muslim clothing which inspired the burkini.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Europe Director, commended the court’s decision, saying, “By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fueled by and is fueling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand.”

The ban was provoked by the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. It has been criticized as the law does nothing to protect the women who wear burkinis. The ban resulted in further outrage when pictures surfaced on the internet of a burkini-clad woman being forced to remove her swimwear by police officers on a public beach. The officers involved in the beach incident claimed they were simply following and enforcing the law.

Christian Estrosi, who runs the Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur regional council, vehemently supports the ban. “Wearing an outfit that fully covers the body to go to a beach does not correspond to our vision of living together, particularly with regard to the equality of men and women,” Estrosi stated.

Supporters of the law claim it is protecting Muslim women by freeing them of clothing that impedes their personal freedom. However, it has done nothing but bring the injustice and prejudice Muslims face to light. The law is infringing upon burkini wearers’ liberty, by dictating what they may or may not wear in public. It has created legal justification for discrimination and racism.

The court’s ruling could mean progress for France, but the conflict is long from over. Despite the ruling, many French cities have not overturned their burkini bans. These towns have ignored the court’s interference, which was in response to the burkini ban in Villeneuve-Loubet, saying that it was not aimed at them.

The future of the burkini ban is also unclear due to the fact that many people of power in France agree with it. Prime Minister Manuel Valls commented on the matter, saying, “It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”

The court’s decision has not been respected by all towns who have banned the burkini and is still being debated, but the court’s defense of the freedom of all its citizens is a step in the right direction.

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