en-fr  France Has the Burkini Blues
La France a le burkini blues.

Par Roger Cohen - The New York Times, le 18 Août, 2016.

En 2004, une femme australienne d'origine libanaise, Aheda Zanetti, a découvert une niche de marché. Troublé par la vue de sa jeune nièce essayant de jouer netball dans une combinaison lourde de l’uniforme hijab et de l'équipe, elle a décidé de concevoir quelque chose de convenable pour les sensibilités musulmanes qui combinent la modestie et l'aspect pratique. Peu après, elle a fait la même chose pour les femmes musulmanes qui voulaient se baigner sur les plages de Sydney - mais pas en bikini.

She founded a company, Ahiida, to produce the new attire, which included the “hijood” — a synthesis of hijab and hood — and the “burkini” — an amalgam of burqa and bikini. In 2006, Zanetti trademarked the names “burkini” and “burqini” in Australia and elsewhere. The swimwear — two-piece, full-body, head-covering garments — took off. For many Muslim women the burkini solved a beach dilemma.

Fast-forward a dozen years through a period of growing tension between Islam and the West to Cannes on the French Côte d’Azur, where the mayor this month banned use of burkinis. Cannes is just 15 miles from Nice, the site of a terrorist attack last month in which a man loyal to the Islamic State drove a truck into a festive crowd, killing 85 people.

The ordinance of the Cannes mayor, David Lisnard, said: “Beach attire that ostentatiously displays a religious affiliation, while France and places of worship are the target of terrorist acts, is likely to create risks to public order.” Lisnard’s position — adopted by the authorities in a few other resort towns — has now been backed by Manuel Valls, the French prime minister. He told the newspaper La Provence this week that, “The burkini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.” Valls said that, “If we want to construct an Islam of France compatible with our values, our liberties and male-female equality, then Islam must, as other religions have done, accept discretion in the manifestation of its religious convictions.” He added, “In this very particular period where we suffer terrorist attacks in the name of a delinquent Islam, all citizens must assume their responsibilities.” A number of factors have turned France into the epicenter of the clash between extremist Islam and Western societies. They include the presence of Western Europe’s largest Muslim community, French participation in conflicts from the Middle East to Mali, the tensions deriving from France’s troubled colonial past (notably in Algeria), and, perhaps most of all, the Republic’s firm doctrine of laïcité, or secularism, designed to subsume all ethnic, racial, religious and other differences into French citizenship.

Valls said that secularism was not the negation of religion but the protection of everyone’s right to believe — or not believe. In practice, however, France’s roughly 5 million Muslims have felt targeted because laïcité has mainly translated of late into laws banning head scarves in state schools and face-covering veils in public. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France has said it will file a legal complaint against the Cannes ordinance.

A couple of points must be made here. It is unacceptable that some Muslim communities in Europe enjoy the freedoms of the democracies they live in without accepting the responsibility of upholding the basic values of those societies. After terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam from Britain to Belgium to Germany to France, it cannot be that imams in European mosques preach hatred against the West or portray the liberty and equality of women as debauchery and prostitution. The French government has rightly expelled 82 preachers of such views who had been living in France.

Leaders of European Muslim communities — the many Muslims who have enjoyed success and integration in Europe — need to stand up day after day and declare, loud and clear, that with the fruits of freedom come the obligations of tolerant citizenship. Paris was not built on backwardness or barbarism or misogyny. Its luminous appeal to all humanity stems from the Enlightenment. The French state, in turn, like other states, must recommit itself to combating prejudice against Muslims.

That said, it is also unacceptable to ban Zanetti’s burkini from beaches. A burkini is not in itself “a political project,” “a counter-society” or a symbol of women’s enslavement, as Valls argued. No, it is a choice of dress reflecting a religious belief protected under the French Constitution. If anything, it is the counter-bikini.

Often the choice to wear one has been imposed through forms of male domination sanctioned by certain readings of Islam and pervasive in societies like Saudi Arabia, but equally it may reflect a woman’s independently embraced identity. That is not for officials to decide. Inside the burkini lurk many different women’s journeys.

Zanetti told Le Monde that she would like to ask a question: “Do French mayors and politicians want to ban the burkini, or just Muslims?” From the distant fastness of Australia that’s a sharp, easy jibe. The French reality is far more difficult, requiring outreach, restraint and good sense from all sides.
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France Has the Burkini Blues.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 7 months ago
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By Roger Cohen, The New York Times, August 18, 2016.
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In 2004, an Australian woman of Lebanese descent, Aheda Zanetti, discovered a market niche.
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For many Muslim women the burkini solved a beach dilemma.
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A couple of points must be made here.
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Paris was not built on backwardness or barbarism or misogyny.
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Its luminous appeal to all humanity stems from the Enlightenment.
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If anything, it is the counter-bikini.
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That is not for officials to decide.
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Inside the burkini lurk many different women’s journeys.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None

France Has the Burkini Blues.

By Roger Cohen, The New York Times, August 18, 2016.

In 2004, an Australian woman of Lebanese descent, Aheda Zanetti, discovered a market niche. Troubled by the sight of her young niece trying to play netball in an unwieldy combination of hijab and team uniform, she decided to design something suitable for Muslim sensibilities that combined modesty and practicality. Soon after she did the same thing for Muslim women who wanted to swim at Sydney beaches — but not in bikinis.

She founded a company, Ahiida, to produce the new attire, which included the “hijood” — a synthesis of hijab and hood — and the “burkini” — an amalgam of burqa and bikini. In 2006, Zanetti trademarked the names “burkini” and “burqini” in Australia and elsewhere. The swimwear — two-piece, full-body, head-covering garments — took off. For many Muslim women the burkini solved a beach dilemma.

Fast-forward a dozen years through a period of growing tension between Islam and the West to Cannes on the French Côte d’Azur, where the mayor this month banned use of burkinis. Cannes is just 15 miles from Nice, the site of a terrorist attack last month in which a man loyal to the Islamic State drove a truck into a festive crowd, killing 85 people.

The ordinance of the Cannes mayor, David Lisnard, said: “Beach attire that ostentatiously displays a religious affiliation, while France and places of worship are the target of terrorist acts, is likely to create risks to public order.”

Lisnard’s position — adopted by the authorities in a few other resort towns — has now been backed by Manuel Valls, the French prime minister. He told the newspaper La Provence this week that, “The burkini is not a new range of swimwear, a fashion. It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on the enslavement of women.”

Valls said that, “If we want to construct an Islam of France compatible with our values, our liberties and male-female equality, then Islam must, as other religions have done, accept discretion in the manifestation of its religious convictions.” He added, “In this very particular period where we suffer terrorist attacks in the name of a delinquent Islam, all citizens must assume their responsibilities.”

A number of factors have turned France into the epicenter of the clash between extremist Islam and Western societies. They include the presence of Western Europe’s largest Muslim community, French participation in conflicts from the Middle East to Mali, the tensions deriving from France’s troubled colonial past (notably in Algeria), and, perhaps most of all, the Republic’s firm doctrine of laïcité, or secularism, designed to subsume all ethnic, racial, religious and other differences into French citizenship.

Valls said that secularism was not the negation of religion but the protection of everyone’s right to believe — or not believe. In practice, however, France’s roughly 5 million Muslims have felt targeted because laïcité has mainly translated of late into laws banning head scarves in state schools and face-covering veils in public. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France has said it will file a legal complaint against the Cannes ordinance.

A couple of points must be made here. It is unacceptable that some Muslim communities in Europe enjoy the freedoms of the democracies they live in without accepting the responsibility of upholding the basic values of those societies. After terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam from Britain to Belgium to Germany to France, it cannot be that imams in European mosques preach hatred against the West or portray the liberty and equality of women as debauchery and prostitution. The French government has rightly expelled 82 preachers of such views who had been living in France.

Leaders of European Muslim communities — the many Muslims who have enjoyed success and integration in Europe — need to stand up day after day and declare, loud and clear, that with the fruits of freedom come the obligations of tolerant citizenship. Paris was not built on backwardness or barbarism or misogyny. Its luminous appeal to all humanity stems from the Enlightenment. The French state, in turn, like other states, must recommit itself to combating prejudice against Muslims.

That said, it is also unacceptable to ban Zanetti’s burkini from beaches. A burkini is not in itself “a political project,” “a counter-society” or a symbol of women’s enslavement, as Valls argued. No, it is a choice of dress reflecting a religious belief protected under the French Constitution. If anything, it is the counter-bikini.

Often the choice to wear one has been imposed through forms of male domination sanctioned by certain readings of Islam and pervasive in societies like Saudi Arabia, but equally it may reflect a woman’s independently embraced identity. That is not for officials to decide. Inside the burkini lurk many different women’s journeys.

Zanetti told Le Monde that she would like to ask a question: “Do French mayors and politicians want to ban the burkini, or just Muslims?” From the distant fastness of Australia that’s a sharp, easy jibe. The French reality is far more difficult, requiring outreach, restraint and good sense from all sides.