What is a Burkini?

The first question that begs to be answered is, what is a Burkini? Basically it is a swimsuit that covers everything except the hands, feet and face. It was designed by Australian fashion designer Aheda Zanetti. She owns the trademark to the words burqini and burkini, although the terms are now in generic use. Just so that facts are clear, in terms of style the Burkini is not much different to a scuba diving suit but the designer invented it so that the Muslim women that wanted to swim had the option to do so with modest swimwear.

The ruling to ban Burkini

In late July the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, banned the burkini on public beaches, calling them “the uniform of extremist Islamism.” Since then more than 30 other French municipalities, many of them along the French Riviera, have followed suit. Despite the

The ban generated broad international criticism. A widely cited New York Times editorial on August 18, described the ban as paternalistic, bigoted and hypocritical. This led to backlash across the world on the right to wear what you want, riots on not to be discriminated and more.

What resulted from this ban?

In terms of interfaith relations, this has led to division between religions and rather than having harmony and peaceful coexistence amongst people, there has been sparks of discomfort.

The question at its root is, whether such bans should be allowed in societies in the interest of public safety. Public safety wins over personal privacy in most cases, hence why France has got away with the niqabs and hijabs ban so effectively. But how is it possible to apply this to a burkini which is covering the body? Surely we are not required to be naked in the interest of public safety? Though this might be the next step forward as then at least you will know what the person is wearing…or not wearing?

What is really amusing is that about 40% of the people that were buying these outfits were Jewish and others. Many English women felt more comfortable wearing something that covered them properly as opposed to being exposed on the beach and it has had a favourable response from non-muslims. Now if you think about it from the point of view of somebody that might be body conscious this makes perfect sense!

Honestly the ban on burkinis is silly and misguided. We are creating rifts in society which do not allow people to live together peacefully. We have no business making fashion into a criminal statement that does not even exist! While it may offend the fashion sensibilities of some of France’s mayors, the burkini does not pose a threat to public safety, the thought of it is ludicrous, surely you cannot put them in the same pedestal as a niqab, Halloween mask or sunglasses? Which can be said to cover personal identification to a certain extent.

Critics have gone as far has questioning whether the police would be enforcing a ban for wetsuits nun’s habits and other garments or whether this was something special just reserved for muslims? Not only is it discrimination due to islamophobic tendencies in its highest form, it is also sexist in terms of Human rights law. France’s Human Rights League said the burkini bans are “serious and illegal attack on numerous fundamental rights” and an abuse of France’s secular principles.

Pictures and videos of incidents where women have been fined, told to get out the sea and at the same time abuse has been hurled at them. Victimising and bullying Muslim women on holiday is not the appropriate way to go, and you’re not only ensuring that the said “terrorists” have further excuse to react but you are also destroying the peaceful coexistence that is being created amongst interfaith communities.

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