Cannes, France Bans Burkinis In The Latest Wave Of Islamophobia And Policing Women’s Bodies

If you haven’t heard about enough stupid laws these days, then you’re going to want to sit down for this one. In Cannes, France, burkinis are officially banned on the beach. Yes, a bathing suit designed to help women dress modestly on a beach day has been banned because they are, according to Cannes Mayor David Lisnard, “the symbol of Islamic extremism” and go against the founding French principle of secularism. But if a country was really secular, it wouldn’t be able to have any say, at all, about what religious garb women wear. And imagine telling a French man that wearing his clothes was punishable by law — it just doesn’t happen.

Cannes just declared the ban on the beach this month, although France has had a full ban on the burqa and Niqab since 2004. Villeneuve-Loubet, another coastal town on the French Riviera, and Sisco, a town in Corsica, have also banned burkinis this summer.

If a woman is “caught” wearing the modest suit on the beach in Cannes, she will be fined €38, which is just over $40 (the weirdest fine amount to match the weirdest law). Lisnard said burkinis “disrupt” public order. I know — it makes no fucking sense. Especially because other religious symbols, like a Jewish yamaka or Christian cross, are still allowed. It’s really all about the burkini and how scared French officials are of Islam in the wake of recent terror attacks.

According to The Guardian, Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services, said,“We are not talking about banning the wearing of religious symbols on the beach, but ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us.” So, if a woman wants to dress in accordance to her religion, it’s showing an allegiance to ISIS? They couldn’t be more wrong.

So far, Cannes’ attempt at law and order by bathing suit is working. According to the BBC, no one has been seen wearing a burkini since July. And that might be the saddest thing of all — they have effectively silenced the women previously wearing them. Earlier this summer, a bunch of women tried to organize a “burkini party” in Marseille at a private pool and encouraged attendees to wear the burkini, even though it’s banned in public pools. The mayor of the town heard about the event and was “shocked” enough to shut it down.

Muslim Lifesavers Unveil The 'Burqini'
CREDIT: Matt King/Getty Images

Mélisa Thivet, the treasurer for the group throwing the party said, “I don’t see what we’re being made to feel guilty about when we are just practicing our religion. We’re in a secular country and everyone should be able to practice their belief as they see fit.” Even if practicing their beliefs means covering up. Cannes and the other coastal towns that have banned burkinis are still allowing Muslim women to wear a veil on public beaches.

It’s not OK to police what women wear, in any sense. A government that not only dictates what a woman wears, but also says that what a woman wears is wrong because it’s also discriminating against her religious beliefs, is a very chilling thought. Imagine telling Jewish men they couldn’t wear a cap or a Christian woman she had to remove her cross necklace before building a sandcastle.

Usually, white men are clutching their pearls about women baring too much, but attacking someone’s religious freedom and desire to cover up, on the beach of all places, is really just too much to handle. Banning the burkini and the burqa is the epitome of hate and ignorance.