The Burkini Ban Sucks, and so Does the Burqa

Even for the most ardent secularist (like me), telling people they cannot wear innocuous religious garb in public is a bridge too far. So let’s just get this out of the way with regards to the “burkini ban” — forcing harmless beachgoers to remove their “burkinis” is a fruitless attempt to curb Islamist terrorism. Forget liberté, égalité and fraternité for a moment and focus merely on the logistics: Using government resources to hassle a middle-aged woman on the sand simply takes an officer away from combatting real threats. This isn’t ideal.

Still, a little perspective from those (correctly) crying foul on the French authorities would be appropriate. Consider what the burqa and burkini represent. At best, an uncomfortable and nonfunctional bathing suit to wear in salt water on an 83-degree day in Cannes. At worst, an abhorrent relic of the past aiming to repress women under the aegis of religious tradition. And it goes without saying the same adherence to “modest” beachwear is shunned by Muslim men having fun in the Riviera sun.

Meanwhile, the progressive fashion police only acknowledge the infringement of personal liberties when it comes to Western beaches. The outrage is muted towards Muslim-majority countries where wearing a burqa isn’t a choice, but imposed by Islamic dress codes. To my knowledge, there isn’t a hashtag for the women burned with acid for wearing inadequate veils in Iran.

If we’re truly worried about women’s rights and their ability to choose what they wear, let’s keep our outrage consistent. If it’s detestable to fine someone for wearing a burkini, let’s extend our anger on behalf of the millions of women compelled to cover up across the world. The editorial vitriol towards the burkini ban must be adopted when a woman’s wardrobe choices aren’t met with a €38 fine, but physical harm.

Here’s to hoping the French courts put an end to this frivolous prohibition, allowing us on the left to combat what’s truly reprehensible in this matter — the ideology that inflicts an archaic devotion to covering up the female body, often under the threat of violence.

Originally published at

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