RELIGION

Muslim YouTuber Spells Out Exactly Why France’s Burkini Ban Is So Problematic

"Why can’t you just let women wear whatever the hell they want to wear?"

British YouTuber Dina Torkia had a few choice words about the temporary “Burkini bans” that have swept through several French cities in recent months. 

The popular Muslim fashionista took to her YouTube channel to point out the absurdity of banning the burkini, which is essentially just a swimsuit that offers full body coverage to Muslim women who need it. 

At least three towns in France have already banned the burkini for defying the country’s laws on secularism, while a fourth is planning to do the same. A number of French politicians, including the country’s prime minister and women’s rights minister, have supported the ban. As of August 17, 10 Muslim women wearing burkinis to the beach in Cannes had been confronted by French police as a result of the new policy. Six left the beach and four were reportedly fined 38 euros ($43), according to Reuters

For Torkia, this is many levels of ridiculous. In her video, the vlogger spells out exactly why she finds the ban so frustrating. Here are a few of her points. 

 

1. First of all, what even is a burkini?

Many voices online have already pointed out that the burkini is simply a type of wetsuit, similar to the kind of swimwear worn by scuba divers and surfers. Torkia herself doesn’t technically wear a burkini to the beach ― partly because stylish options are lacking. In the past, she’s worn a cycling top, leggings, and shorts over the leggings.

In her video, Torkia wondered if that outfit would technically count as a burkini. She also wondered if a company that produces modest swimwear stopped using the term “burkini” and started calling their products “diving suits with headgear” or “all-in-one sports suits,” would that get women kicked off the beach? What would happen, she mused, if a woman wanted more coverage from the sun because of a health condition? 

The ambiguities surrounding this ban suggested to Torkia that what the French government is really banning from the beach is not a type of clothing, per se, but a type of person ― a Muslim woman. 

“If I rocked up on the beach wearing a diving suit and a swimming head cap, if they knew I was Muslim, they would tell me to get off,” she said.

 

2. The ban is another example of men trying to police women’s bodies.

Torkia found the reasons French mayors gave for the ban to be quite ludicrous. Lionnel Luca, the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, told Sky News that he found burkinis “unacceptable for hygienic reasons.” The mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, issued an ordinance banning beachwear that doesn’t respect “good morals and secularism.” 

Torkia couldn’t understand how covering up at the beach is unhygienic, or a threat to “good morals.” For her, this is another example of men telling women what to wear.

“What makes you different to the ‘extremists’ you’re trying to fight so much that are ‘forcing’ Muslim women to wear the scarf or to wear the veil or the burkini or the burqa?” she asked. “What makes you any different other than you’re enforcing something else on them. Why can’t you just let women wear whatever the hell they want to wear?”

 

3. The burkini is not a symbol of Islamic extremism, for goodness sakes. 

The Cannes ordinance against burkinis claims that swimsuits that show religious affiliation in an “ostentatious way” in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in France “could create risks of trouble to public order.” 

Linsard went so far as to claim that the burkini is a “uniform that is the symbol of Islamic extremism.”

Burkinis are not a symbol of extremism for the vast majority of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. Instead, Torkia said, they’re just a fashion trend designed to serve the needs of Muslim women and women of other faiths who want coverage while they’re hanging out on the beach. Nothing more.

Plus, she highly doubts that you’ll find any extremists wearing burkinis and “chilling on the beach with their kids, having a swim and playing with sand.”

“The kind of people that are in ISIS, believe it or not, actually aren’t even going to be happy with women wearing burkinis on the beach because they’re the kind of people who would still think that’s inappropriate,” she said. 

 

4. Not only is the ban racist, it also makes life harder for Muslims in France.

Much of this burkini mayhem has been fueled by tensions in the country about terrorist attacks on French soil in recent years. But the thing is, French Muslims have been victims of terrorism, too ― about a third of the 85 victims killed in the July 14 truck attack in Nice were Muslims.  

Instead of promoting unity in the country, the burkini bans are a “racist excuse” to target Muslims, Torkia argued. 

“And you wonder why the French youth or the British youth or Muslim youth in Europe in general feel excluded or they feel scared or have confusions about their identity,” Torkia said. 

Growing up, Torkia was convinced that life would get better for Muslims in Europe over the years. But she feels that she was a lot more confident going out in a headscarf when she was 17 years old, than she is now. 

As a mom herself, she said she’s worried about the kind of environment that her daughter has to grow up in. 

“I really feel for you Muslim girls, and just the Muslim youth in general, just regular people in France who are having to experience this kind of thing.”

Watch Dina Torkia’s video above.

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