Opinion

Here’s why the ‘burkini ban’ is important, even though French secularists are bungling it so badly

The 'burkini' isn't just modest swimwear, it's a political statement.
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
By Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

By Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

FRANCE, August 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — After weeks of bickering in political circles and in the media, the French Council of State — the country’s highest administrative court — issued a summary ruling that suspended one of approximately 30 municipal bans against the “burkini” garments worn by Muslim women on French beaches.

One of the bans, imposed by opposition right-wing Mayor Lionnel Lucca of Villeneuve-Loubet near Nice on the Riviera, was challenged by the leftist and secularist Ligue des droits de l’homme (League of Human Rights, a prominent defender of abortion "rights") and by an anti-Islamophobia group. The Council of State decided in their favor, citing “civil liberties” that mayors are required to defend and uphold.

“Police measures taken by the mayors of seaside resorts in order to regulate access to beaches and bathing should be appropriate, necessary and proportionate to the sole needs of public order, in consideration of time and place, taking into account what is required for proper access to the shore, safe bathing as well as hygiene and decency on the beach; mayors should not invoke any other considerations and any restrictions brought on liberties should be justified by proven threats to the public order,” the official communiqué of the Council of State stated.

Regarding the Villeneuve-Louvet ban, the judge hearing the application for interim measures decided that no proof was brought by the mayor that the burkini was a threat to the public order. “Emotion and concern born of recent terrorist attacks, in particular the attack in Nice on the 14th of July, cannot suffice legally to justify the ban under consideration,” the communiqué continued.

The judge concluded that the ban was a “grievous and manifestly unlawful breach of the fundamental liberty to come and go, liberty of conscience and personal liberty.” In view of the “emergency” of the situation, the judge annulled a previous judgment by the tribunal of Nice that had upheld the ban in its first-level ruling.

Banning the burkini throughout the country would take a law that will be difficult to formulate in order for it to pass the scrutiny of the Constitutional Court.

As for the mayors of other seaside resorts where the Muslim garb has been prohibited since August, they can expect similar taps on the hand if they are taken to court. But many of them have already made known that they have no intention of backing down.

Observers from foreign countries who saw shocking pictures of tear-gas armed police asking a Muslim woman to uncover her arms on a beach in the South of France will surely be relieved by the news. Many conservative and Catholic media are underscoring that the ban infringed on women’s rights to dress as they choose, all the more so when they choose modesty on French beaches where standards are notoriously lax and going topless is acceptable everywhere, even if that degree of undress has gone largely out of fashion. They’re questioning whether preventing a Muslim woman from wearing the bathing suit of her choice a sign of the dictatorship of secularism.

The burkini ban also has raised the question: Would Catholic nuns in traditional habit be banned from the beaches?

I get the point. But the problem is in fact on quite another level.

While it is true that lay and masonic organizations have in the not so distant past tried to prevent Catholic nuns from visiting museums run by the secularist League of Education in full habit, and while France has known several periods during the French Revolution or in the aftermath of the Separation of State and Church in 1905 during which religious habits were prohibited, banning of the burkini by right-wing mayors does not have much to do with that.

The moves have much more to do with protecting the national identity and resisting increasing Islamic immigration that is posing a genuine threat to the French way of life. That includes the Christian roots of France, as the recent terrorist attacks are slowly making clear to a population that has been deliberately numbed to the differences between the Catholic faith and Islam during the last 30 or 40 years.

When French mayors ban the burkini, they do not dare give the real reason, and that is a big part of the problem. They are saying “no” to a garment developed as a sign of belonging to a faith that is both religious and political. They are reacting as did the Swiss who banned minarets in their country because a minaret is not a steeple, it is an architectural “bayonet” as the Turkish Islamist president Erdogan liked to say, quoting a poem of conquest by an Islamic author. Wearing a burkini is a statement.

Banning it in the name of “hygiene” or “secularism” is in a way refusing to give the real reason for a legitimate move against an aggressive choice of garb. You never saw so many headscarves in France as in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. … The rise of the burkini is a similar occurrence in the wake of a wave of terrorist attacks, including the overtly anti-Catholic beheading of Father Jacques Hamel, 86, while he was celebrating Mass in a town near Rouen on July 26.

That is the nature of Islam. It has little interest in living together in a multi-faith State, accepting only what is necessary for it to thrive. That is one of the reasons why France’s Islamic community hardly made its presence felt when secularist France was legalizing same-sex “marriage.” Islam works for the Umma, the community of the faithful, which transcends national frontiers and aims for the universal imposition of Sharia law.

And where Sharia law is in full force, sunbathing at a public beach, in whatever clothes barring full covering in a burka, is no longer an option for women, whatever their beliefs.

The burkini episode must be read in the light of the Cologne rapes and aggressions on Western women, as political analyst Guillaume Bernard portrayed them in the Catholic monthly La Nef: For a consequent Muslim, Western women are fair game because they are considered immodest to Islamic standards, and therefore deserve what is coming to them. For a fundamentalist Muslim, Western ways of dress, however decent, can do nothing but irrepressibly arouse a male’s desire, and women bear the guilt of anything a man may do to them. “And so men are reduced to primitive instincts that are purported to push him to desire to possess physically any woman he decides to look at,” wrote Bernard in January. The day could come when women not wearing a burkini to the beach would be considered lawful prey.

Granted, the West is badly decadent, but Islam — aggressive, deliberately visible and arrogant — is not an answer. Allowing the burkini to prosper would be to open France’s arms to a political religion, a “State in the State” that imposes its ways once it is strong enough to do so, as history shows. But it will be hard to justify as long as French politicians refuse to reason in terms of truth and good instead of secularism and equal rights for all beliefs, including Islamic fundamentalism.


Finished reading? Want to make a difference?

You depend on our news reporting. We depend on you. Make an impact today.


Share this article