- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

Burkini Ban in France: Restrictive Secularism as 'Instrument Against Islam'

© AFP 2023 / FADEL SENNAA Moroccan woman wearing a "burkini", a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, enters the sea at Oued Charrat beach, near the capital Rabat
A Moroccan woman wearing a burkini, a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, enters the sea at Oued Charrat beach, near the capital Rabat - Sputnik International
French seaside resorts one by one are joining the ban on burkinis, swimwear for Muslim women that covers the whole body except the face, feet and hands. French Prime Minister Valls supported the decision.

Tunisian women, one (R) wearing a burkini, a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, swim on August 16, 2016 at Ghar El Melh beach near Bizerte, north-east of the capital Tunis. - Sputnik International
Burkini Ban: Why Europe Prohibits Full-Body Swimsuits for Muslim Women
The municipalities of Cannes became the first area where fines were issued to burkini clad women. Businessman Rashid Nekkaz declared his readiness to pay fines on behalf of conservative women from his own pocket, whereas the Union of French Muslim Democrats wrote an open “Letter to France” (a reference to the letter by Emile Zola against anti-Semitism).

Saïd Branine, founder and director of the Oumma.com site, which is a website that positions itself as an independent initiative of the cultural, civil and information orientation created for French-speaking Muslim community spoke to Sputnik in an interview.

“This decision is seen as something completely ridiculous. In France, it is not the first time that controversy has been raised over a piece of cloth. The hijab was discussed for many years. Now we are discussing the burkini.”

Branine further said, “We see that in France, politicians are unable to solve economic and social problems and instead they switch to topics that do not deserve attention, such as the wearing of the hijab and now wearing of a burkini. This shows the level of powerlessness of the political class in France. Muslims find it completely ridiculous and do not understand how wearing a burkini can encroach on republican values and the principle of secularism.”

According to the director, this case is a typical French controversy because everywhere else people can wear burkinis but somehow in France it is seen as a problem.

“It is a problem only in France because France has, firstly, a colonial past, and secondly there is the concept of secularism which can sometimes be restrictive in nature and can be perceived as an instrument of struggle against religion, in this case against Islam.”

But people forget that in France the state is secular, state institutions are secular but not public space. In a public place everyone has a right to dress as he or she wants and everyone has the right to talk about their religious beliefs.

“The state and public institutions must be secular, but not public space. This is not one and the same thing,” Branine said.

The director further spoke about how this decision will further raise tensions in society. “In the current situation there has been a terrorist attack and that is not the best time to exacerbate tensions between groups, which, is by the way, what the terrorists are trying to achieve. This contrived controversy about wearing burkini will only heighten tension in the atmosphere to branding the Muslims.”

Branine stressed that in France the law does not allow to impose a ban on wearing a Burkini. The matter will be referred to the Council of State and the decision will be made within 48 hours, but according to the director the Council of State will annul the decision because according to him it does not make any sense.

A man walks into the Moroccan mosque in the Duesseldorf´s district Oberbilk on January 20, 2016 - Sputnik International
France Announces Plans to Fund Mosques to Avoid Muslim Radicalization
“If burkini is banned, it will be possible to prohibit yarmulke, priest and nuns clothing, for example. We see that it is infinite, it is absurd controversy, characteristic only in France.”

Talking about the French Prime Minister, the director said that, “We all know that Manuel Valls acts on the territory of right and extreme right. He can only approve the decision of these mayors. You begin to doubt that Manuel Valls is still left but he no longer is. Hence, the decision taken by Manuel Valls is not surprising.”

Batrov Rustam Gayarovich, First Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan spoke to Sputnik, “The French model of secularism has outlived itself and it absolutely does not fit in the standards of human rights. If we say that we live in a free society, then every person has the right to deal with his body as he sees fit. Is it not so? It is absurd to impose, dictate to people how they should dress.”

He further said that if a person’s right to dress up which is their elementary right is taken away; there cannot be any freedom in the country. Therefore, this model of secularism, which seeks to clean up the public space from all forms of manifestations of religiosity, has outlived itself and does not fit into concept of freedom.

“Sooner or later, I think the French will become aware of this and will come to this because that is how it is done all over the world. In any society, there comes a time of mutual hostility, mutual acceptance of each other, but these sentiments must not overpower people. We must lead people to learn to accept others, without speculating fears and putting the blame on Muslims. It is futile, it seems wrong to me and it is set as a time bomb,” concluded Gayarovich.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала