The debate apropos to France banning the ‘burqini’ is one which has been ongoing all summer. I became privy to the situation after an article by the telegraph came across my newsfeed, and I have to say that unfortunately, I was not surprised.
A France which prides itself for liberté, égalité, fraternité, has unfortunately fallen short in recent times, with more social division and social prejudice arising within the country, due to the public suppression and rejection of religion; the consequent of which has led to violent eruptions. It is also precisely through the social persecution of the wider islamic community in such acts which aim to strip them of their beliefs, that it seems that the French government are validating individuals’ fears, rather than attempting to diffuse them. I personally believe that the government has made very little effort to try to remedy the severance, and have instead trumped the terrorist acts as a way to divert the attention away from their own failed model of harmony.
Now, I have to ask, what differentiates the ban on burqini from the extremists’ reinforcement of it? French secularity (or laïcité), which originally signified the separation of the church and state , has in recent times come to mean the complete refusal of religion in secular society. Ironically, laïcité (according to the 1905 Loi de séparation des Églises et de l’État) also outlines the absence of government in the involvement of religious affairs, although it seems more recently that the government has been battling to maintain the reins on religious expression, whilst simultaneously refusing to acknowledge its existence.
It seems that the more the french political figures attempt to justify their reasoning, the deeper they dig a pit for their ignorant policies. Cannes’ mayor, Mr Lisnard decreed the burqini ban on the basis that “access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have (bathing apparel) which respects good customs and secularism”. I can only assume that Mr Lisnard is unfamiliar with the history of the bathing apparel, for as late as the 1920s more ‘conservative’ bathing suits were sported. One of the main reasons why bikinis came to be as we know them today, was due to a ration cut during WWII, when the United States War Production Board mandated a 10% reduction in fabric usage for the production of woman beachwear, in order to replenish their supply for military apparel.
Lisnard continues to say, “beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order (crowds, scuffles etc) which it is necessary to prevent”. It seems that with this phrase alone Mr Lisnard has classified that all Muslims who choose to wear ‘ostentatious’ religious clothing, have naturally pledged alliance to ISIS. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he sounds a lot more intelligent speaking in French.
When the head of municipal services however attempts to clarify Lisnard’s blunder, he ends up saying something equally as ignorant: “we are not talking about banning the wearing of religious symbols on the beach…but ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us.” This dull-witted statement brings back to mind the instance earlier this year in March, when Ms Rossignol, France’s women’s right minister publicly declared that Muslim women who wear headscarves are just like “negroes who accepted slavery.” Who are hiring these people?
The head Imam of Florence, Izzedin Elzir, has challenged France’s ban on burqinis by reposting photos on facebook of nuns splashing and dilly-dallying around in their habits; only to find the next morning that his account was blocked.
It has gone past the point where France can say that they are protecting the interest of french secularism. French secularism is no more than a phantom of an idealised past. It seems that the French government has forgotten the old utilitarian thumb of rule, you cannot discern the needs of the community if you cannot even begin to acknowledge those of the individuals.
There is no longer a separation between state and religion but rather a battle for supremacy. Call it what you want– in the name of ‘french secularism’ or a ‘jihad war’, you cannot liberate a people through any type of imposition.