Unless we are willing to live with the discomfort of what is different and challenging, we are inviting a world of needless incivilities and lack of understanding.
Demonstrators stage a beach party outside the French Embassy, in Knightsbridge, London, in protest at the French government’s decision to ban women from wearing burkinis. PAimages/Dominic Lipinski. All rights reserved.Last week, the mayor of Oye-Plage in France was so disturbed by seeing a woman in a burkini on the beach that he is planning to ban such a garb from the beaches of his own town. This reminded me of some of my own experiences in the past that may just be relevant to the current debates over the burkini in Cannes, Marseille and other beaches in France.
Reduced to symbols of national identity, women are caught in the center of a tug-of-war in which any amount of violence, of coercion and regulation of their bodies is justified in order to win the battle.
Chris Carlson/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.Approximately two years ago in Turkey, there was an odd case in which AKP-allied Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc made a statement declaring that it was indecent for women to laugh in public or, presumably, in mixed company.
A full-body wetsuit garment for Muslim women is at the centre of a controversy in France, and the debate is raising difficult questions about feminism, Islamophobia and the country’s values.
The official French response to repeated terrorist attacks in recent years continues to focus myopically on symbolic measures, embodied in a broadening sartorial crackdown on devout Muslim women. But France doesn’t need fewer burkinis; it needs more jobs and better domestic intelligence.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to seek the presidency again in 2017, and his emphasis on the supposed threat of Islam to national identity, should not be surprising. Fear is a powerful weapon, and Sarkozy, like Donald Trump, is eager to wield it.
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