by Nidra Poller
How did a burkini ban imposed in more than 30 seaside municipalities become the center of international scorn? France, reeling in the aftermath of allahu akhbar mass murders, suddenly becomes the bad guy? Videos, some of them staged provocations, of innocent Islamically dressed women, victims of "police brutality" on French beaches replace the horrifying reality of the dead and the maimed on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, and hardly anyone notices the paradox?
First of all, it's not a burkini. The catchy misnomer is good marketing but it does not describe the hijabathing suit that covers a woman from head to toe, leaving only the face, the hands, and the feet exposed. Unless it's supposed to mean a transition from burqa to bikini? More likely vice versa! As it stands today, it's nautical miles away from a bikini and the gaggles of ladies performing in front of the French embassy in London and similar locations are paddling in bad faith. "No one can tell me what to wear," they declaim, echoing sharia -friendly slogans we've heard before. Europe is pockmarked with neighborhoods controlled by sharia promoters who most certainly do tell women what to wear. And punish them if they do not comply. In one of countless "honor" murders in France the parents of a young man who burned a woman alive defended him with this straightforward explanation: she wore makeup.
Hala Gorani (CNN International) invited two Muslim women to comment on the French burkini ban. One, dressed in Western clothes, is against the burkini and against the ban. Walking in a neighborhood in Bradford she heard men who did not know she understood their language tearing her apart for showing her face. The other guest, her head and neck enclosed in an opaque winding sheet and the rest of what must be her body hidden inside a thick-skinned jilbab, summed up the French burkini ban as "white men telling brown women what to wear." The current French government is a stickler for parity but that doesn't penetrate the young woman's hijab. From her viewpoint, the president is a white man, the male and female cabinet ministers are a white man, the naughty burkini ban is a white man's insult to Muslim women.
Islamically correct neighborhoods in our modern Western countries are modelled on Islamic nations in which women are most vehemently told what they can wear. Tourists, businesswomen, wives of heads of state, female politicians, and journalists cover their arms and legs and wrap their heads in scarves more accurately described as hijab when they tread those grounds.
Daughters or granddaughters of bra-burners frolic on a makeshift beach in front of a French embassy, arm in arm with their Muslim sisters whose mothers or grandmothers fled oppressive Islamic lands. Egged on by the usual battalions of reporters in prestigious media, they scold the intolerant French. Nobody can tell you what to wear? Tell me, American and British sisters, can you go topless on your beaches? Can you wear street clothes in the swimming pool? Of course not, and everyone knows. It's my choice to cover myself? Women who "freely choose" to hide their bodies also accept a wide range of constraints and impositions that may include genital mutilation and purdah. But this ad hoc Sisterhood equates the choice of Islamically hiding one's body with Women's Liberation! Contraception, abortion, sexual freedom, the right to be a bus driver, party all night, stay alone in a hotel without being branded a prostitute...and the right to swathe my body in yards of fabric to stifle its improper sexual invitation.
What's not French about a burkini? asks one sassy progressive. Didn't Victorian bathing costumes cover women from head to toe?
All the right-thinking commentators, newspapers of reference, international TV networks, and cutesy protestors shook fingers of reprobation at the French, repeating the same storyline, the same clichés, being shocked by the same (probably staged) incident, and not daring to dip a toe into the ocean of evidence that stretches out to the horizon.
The basic premise is: everything Islamic is by definition harmless, benevolent, justified, justifiable, and totally disconnected from that nasty "terrorism" mistakenly connected to the noble religion of Islam and its Muslim populations. There is nothing reprehensible about encouraging or forcing women to hide their bodies, the choices of Muslims are always free and compatible with life in modern democracies, any suggestion to the contrary is a disgraceful stigmatization and, what's more, feeds the flames of "terrorism."
It follows that the burkini ban is an act of gratuitous hostility by right wing mayors. The honorable ladies and gentlemen of the Human Rights League (a paragon of anti-Zionism) and the (questionable) Collective against Islamophobia rightfully challenged the shameful ban. Decent people everywhere sighed with relief when the highest administrative court, le Conseil d'Etat, suspended the ban in one commune, Villeneuve-Loubet. Case closed? Not so fast. Most of the mayors are maintaining the ban. The plaintiffs will have to challenge all of them collectively or each one individually. The debate has not ended with the August 26th decision, it has just begun. Lawmakers are preparing bills that will stand up to scrutiny by the Courts. Despite the lack of support from his own administration, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has not backed down. 64% of French people polled in the heat of the controversy support for the ban. By next summer France will have a president from the Républicains party. And Islam will be a decisive issue in the elections.
What's wrong with France?
Disgusting racists, far right extremists, xenophobes, retrograde repressive stubborn fools that don't understand where the world is going? Diversity is the marching order. Respect for differences, moving over and making room for refugees and immigrants, appreciating their rich cultural heritage, living side by side in peace and harmony, that's the way to go. So why don't a majority of French people want to go there?
Is it because they're hooked on laïcité? If ostentatious religious symbols are really the issue, the municipal decrees would really target the kippa, the cross, a priest's collar, a nun's headdress and, who knows, certain tattoos and esoteric symbols. Religious outfits don't disturb the peace. I never saw an Orthodox Jewish woman in long sleeves and thick stockings on a French beach, but if she did spread a towel and roast in the sun, would it bother anyone? The problem is not religion it's Islamic conquest, animated by genocidal hatred. And the Collective against Islamophobia is a bad actor in this drama.
Religiously speaking, the burkini is haram for the sharia compliant. See "the True Salaf" [http://true.salaf.over-blog.com/article-5788867.html] for precisions on how the female should be covered and cloistered. Incidentally, this long-winded repetitive contemporary guide sheds light on the free choice vaunted by covered Muslim women. Abu Hammad al Hayiti explains that it is Allah, not a father or a brother or a husband that prescribes hijab/jilbab. And the young ladies cherished by TV cameras dutifully inform us that no one is forcing them to dress that way. Though the burkini is definitely not sharia compliant its use can be condoned strategically as a step in the right direction. Hence the difficulty faced by French society in formulating sociologically and legally the terms of their resistance.
The burkini ban did not come out of a clear blue sky.
In the past 16 years, France has been the target of incessant and increasing Islamic hostility. First directed against Jews and then gradually extended to law enforcement, medical personnel, firefighters, teachers, institutions, and now undifferentiated civilians targeted in mass murders committed by European-born Muslims. Successive governments have tried awkwardly and ineffectively to protect citizens while bending over backwards at every blow to maintain social cohesion. Counter-productive foreign and domestic policies have, to say the least, contributed to this vulnerability to attack and subversion. The breaking point was reached in January 2015 and exacerbated by the massacres in November of that year, then Nice in July 2016, followed by the slaughter of a priest in a Normandy church, not to mention dozens of other atrocities springing from the same source, and dire warnings of more to come.
The Tunisian (with a French residence permit) who killed 86 and maimed or wounded more than a hundred in Nice on the 14th of July, came from Mkasen, a hotbed of Islamism a short distance from Sousse. The jihadi who gunned down 38 people, mainly British tourists, on a beach in Sousse in July 2015 also came from Mkasen. Daesh promised to perpetrate the same kind of executions on French beaches this summer. Heavily armed policemen and soldiers have been patrolling major beaches. All over France, festivals have been cancelled for security reasons. Tourism has dropped radically.
An event organized in a waterpark outside of Marseille open exclusively to women in burkini and children-girls of any age, boys up to the age of ten-blithely disregarding laws against discriminatory separation of men and women, was ultimately cancelled. It would take an entire volume to list all the occasions when this kind of disrespect for French law was tolerated. This time, with nerves still raw from the shock of Nice, the affront was too great.
On August 13th, the court validated a burkini ban imposed by the mayor of Cannes on July 28th. This kind of decree formulated by a local authority responsible for law and order is not a sophisticated text intended to stand for eternity. That same day, three Maghrebi brothers from Bastia (Corsica) decided to privatize a little beach in Sisco so the women could swim in full Islamic dress. They are accused of chasing other beachgoers away with physical and verbal abuse. Two Sisco men stood their ground. It ended with a huge fight, cars were burned, a man from Sisco was stabbed with a harpoon, it took several hours and 100 policemen to restore order.
Opinion makers and decision makers know about this. But most prefer to disconnect. They disconnect the Islamoswimsuit from the Salafists that prey on the Muslim community, strong arm imams, push their way into mosques, occupy territory, and exert relentless pressure for compliance. They disconnect the hijabathing suit from those nice Muslim men that no one would have suspected who turn out to be jihad mass murderers. They disconnect the escalation of Islamic dress that covers more and more Muslim women, by stages, from loose unrevealing clothes, to hijab, plus jilbab, and all the way to the niqab. And even though the niqab is banned in France, some defiant women continue to wear it, and small riots break out if the police intervene. Opinion makers disconnect the credible threats of beach massacres, the riot at Sisco, isolated assaults at other beaches and vacation spots this summer. They wrap the whole story in the image of a smiling attractive Muslim in a bright blue hijabathing suit, just doing her thing.
Inoffensive. That's what the tolerant Western mind thinks. Everyone should be free to do as he pleases as long as it doesn't harm the other. But that is not the meaning of hijab for those who impose it on Muslim women. A woman in hijab is "closed" and women with bared heads are consequentially "open," the face & hair are the sex, and a bared "sex" is an invitation to penetration. Inoffensive? What of the countless "honor" killings? Women savagely murdered by family members because they were Westernized. Education Minister Najat Vallaud Belkacem, in frontal opposition to the prime minister, decried the burkini ban that "stigmatizes Muslims and fans the flames of racism." The minister has just presided over a program of mass murder & hostage drills in public schools because she knows, the government knows, people with sharp intuition know Daesh is planning to attack French schools. In full atrocity mode.
International public opinion, enflamed by what is perhaps a well-orchestrated campaign to portray France as shamefully Islamophobic, has practically ignored the allahu akhbar murder of a beautiful Eurasian from the UK by a French national named Smail Ayad. Mia Ayliffe Chung, Ayad, and two other men shared a small room with four bunk beds in a backpacker's hostel in Queensland (Australia). The killer, who was reportedly infatuated with her, flew into a rage because she rejected his advances and took part in a glamour photo shoot. Backpackers at the hostel say he had been threatening for two weeks to massacre all of them. They thought it was a joke.
Another disconnect. And a tragic joke.
First published in Hebrew translation by Midah.