France Overturns The Burkini Ban After The World Explained How Ridiculous It Was
After a ton of international coverage and a few “burkini party” protests, France’s highest court decided to overturn the burkini ban in the smaller Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet. Although the court’s ruling applies just to Villeneuve-Loubet, most advocates expect it to serve as precedent for the 30 other small towns where mayors decided to tell women what they can and cannot wear to the beach. According to BBC, the court ruled that the ban “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms to come and go, freedom of beliefs and individual freedom.”
The burkini ban was sort unprecedented — normally people in power want women to cover up. But the French towns claimed that burkinis are worn only by those who support terror and the ban was in the name of “public safety” (or Islamaphobia, but that depends on your perspective, I suppose). The court also ruled that no mayor can ban something in the name of public safety without a “proven risk” to public order.
One of the most disturbing things about the issue was how officers enforced the ban. Earlier this week, images circulated the internet of police officers on a beach in Nice ordering a woman to remove part of her bathing suit.
Similarly, in Cannes, 34-year-old woman was issued a ticket for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.” According to The Guardian, witnesses said the woman’s daughter was with her, crying as her mother was forced to remove her tunic, and onlookers were shouting “Go home!” at the woman. The ticket was for €11. It’s so strange because grown men with guns forcing a woman to take off her clothes seems so much more extreme than a modest bathing suit.
After word of the burkini ban and images of women being forced to strip on the beach spread, international supporters took action. In London, self-identifying women were invited to protest in front of the French Embassy and hold a “wear what you want beach party.” According to Time Out London, the call to action said, “Come along to the French Embassy and wear what you want – BURKINIS, BIKINIS, ANYTHING GOES. Bring beach gear: beach umbrellas, towels, bat and ball, boules…”
One protestor told CNN it was all about watching those women on the beach have to interact with police officers. “I think it’s a frightening image,” they said. “I find it quite chilling to see an image of a woman surrounded by men with guns being told to take her clothes off.” It is super fucking scary to think that if a government doesn’t agree with your religion or values, it could just order you to take something off.
The burkini is a way for Muslim women to unburden themselves of heavy clothing at the beach or pool, allowing them to go swimming and still feel comfortable with how much skin they’re showing. And what’s more secular in France than lounging on the beach all day?