Written by Cynthia Papailler, Staff Writer
A picture of a Muslim woman being forced to remove her veil surrounded by policemen on a French beach is going viral, and women around the world of all different backgrounds are rallying behind her.
Does any government that boasts “Liberty, equality, and fraternity” as their national motto have the right to tell any woman that she is being oppressed by what she chooses to wear?
In recent French news, many southern French cities have banned burkinis—a full body swimsuit that resembles a diver’s suit but much looser— from their beaches. What is shocking is the fact that many of the politicians choosing to ban the swimsuit do not even know what a burkini is. They seem to be blatantly targeting Muslim women. Some women cannot afford the 125 euros bathing suit and opt for large t-shirts, black pants, and bathing caps, but are still receiving fines for those types of outfits. France has been showing more and more Islamophobia since the recent terrorist attacks on the nation and view the burkini as some sort of extremist solidarity.
A lot of French politicians and the burkini ban supporters express their desires for Muslim women to conform to westernized ways but fail to realize that the burkini is a way of doing so. The burkini was created by an Australian designer Aheda Zanetti as a way to help Muslim women blend into westernized society. In most Islamic countries, women aren’t allowed to swim alongside men because the wet burkini would outline a woman’s shape when wet. It is a big step for them and to force a woman to remove their clothing because their choice of being modest is ridiculous.
Although these bans are taking place overseas, with certain presidential candidate expressing anti-islamic views and anti-immigration, this type of discrimination and bans might wash up on our shores. I think we need to find better ways of sorting through our misunderstandings and a better way of dealing with our fears (which are typically fueled by flagrant ignorance). According to NPR, Islam comes in second when it comes to the largest religion with 1.6 billion followers following behind Christianity. It isn’t going away anytime soon and it’s best we learn to put aside our differences and get it together.