Are French politicians going too far with the latest local bans on public beaches of full-body swimming garments known as burkinis?
Mahdia Magri, a French-speaking Algerian resident, said the ban is a form of discrimination against Muslims and Arabs, who make up a big part of the population, and it would be hard to implement such a rule across France.
“Muslim women will not have the freedom to go swimming anymore if this ban is not lifted. As an Arab Muslim wearing a hijab (head cover), I need to wear something that represents me. Many women are still not aware of this ban in France and will be slapped with fines — it’s unfair and makes no sense.”
She said she understands that following recent attacks in France, the perception towards Muslim attire has become worse, but believes a ban like this cannot be permanent, as it can never be fully implemented. The “burqa ban”, which outlaws full-face veils in public, is not being followed everywhere, she said.
“The swimwear of divers and surfers looks similar to a burkini, including the head cap worn by swimmers. I don’t see why our body-covering swimsuits are being viewed differently in this case.”
Mounia A., a French Arab living in the UAE, said she is “completely against the ban” because it goes against the democratic values in France and will fuel more problems between Muslims and non-Muslims.
“All around France, you’d find people wearing religious apparel, whether it’s the Jewish cap, the Indian sari or a cross. It makes no sense to ban the burkini only. If such rules are being applied, they should be applied on everyone. Everyone should be able to wear what they want,” said Mounia, who visits France every month.
As more towns are in the process of banning the burkini, she said this would create more Islamophobia instead of challenging it.
“A democratic government like France should never impose any dress code on its people.”
“There are a lot of prejudices surrounding Muslim attire including people who have long beards. Muslims are wrongly perceived as terrorists in the West and I think this is why officials are trying to implement such rules, to reduce the anxiety that could be felt by people who can’t tell the difference.”