The Battle of the Burkini

French coastal communities went too far with rules targeting Muslim women who visit beaches in the so-called burkini – a bathing suit that covers most of the body but not the face. “A grotesque photograph soon appeared in newspapers around the world of three French policemen, one of them with a machine gun slung across his back, forcing a woman to undress on a beach in Nice,” explains Ian Buruma, author and professor of democracy and human rights for Project Syndicate. Opponents of the burkini argue that modest attire linked to religious beliefs is oppressive for women, and “This reflects a broader tendency, which has been gaining traction since the end of the last century, to couch anti-Muslim rhetoric in the language of human rights, as though equal rights for women or gays were ancient Western customs that must be defended against alien religious bigotry.” Arbitrary rules on fashion targeting Muslims only added to publicity and sales and could also spur religious fervor and defiance. French courts have ruled against burkini bans. – YaleGlobal

The Battle of the Burkini

Burkini opponents in France rely on language of human rights to frame anti-Muslim views, but ban only prompts publicity, sales and religious fervor
Ian Buruma
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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Ian Buruma is Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. He is the author of numerous books, including Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance and Year Zero: A History of 1945.

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