NO to racist ban on burkini! Fight sexism! Fight Islamophobia!
Several hundred protested at the French Embassy in London against ‘burkini’ bans. Despite France’s top constitutional court bowing to large anti-racist protests and ruling AGAINST the bans, resorts in France continue to support the racist ban.
Note how many times they are beating this tired old “racism” canard to death.
The demonstration was called by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Muslim Engagement and Development. Protestors demanded “NO to sexism! NO to Islamophobia!”.
Come along to the STAND UP TO RACISM conference, 8th October in London … due to be addressed by Jeremy Corbyn. #BurkiniBan
From Cannes to Bavaria, politicians fiddle with burkini bans while Europe boils
Until a few years ago, nobody had heard of a burkini. After this summer, it is unlikely many people will want to hear about the garment ever again. The fact that this item of beach clothing has become such a colossal story is deeply telling of the underlying issues of our time: issues not only to do with the present state of Islam, but also central issues with the current state of the West.
Unknown (and un-invented) though the burkini was until recently, its emergence says much about the global regression of Islam in our day. Throughout Islamic history, injunctions to “modesty” have been agreed upon, but precisely what forms this should take have varied widely.
Nevertheless, from the Middle East outwards there has been a significant regression in recent decades away from all freer forms of female attire. Forty years ago, the burqa was a rare sight in Afghanistan. Today it dominates. In the same way, within the lifetime of most readers the Islamic headscarf was comparatively rare in North Africa. Now it has become commonplace – indeed it is becoming a statement not to wear one. The same regression is happening in Turkey and across Europe. Globally Islam is becoming more puritanical and one of the first signs of this, always, is the suppression of women’s freedom.
France’s ban on the burkini –
Of course to even use the word “freedom” in this context is to tread into a quagmire. With the growth of Muslim populations in the West, “freedom” is thrown back at us. Who are free states to say what freedom is? What about the freedom of people to follow the most un-free Islamic dress codes? Those who make these arguments know that Europeans are nervous about how to respond to such claims.
France has been at the frontline of this debate for two reasons. First, because it has the largest Muslim population per head of population of any western European country. And secondly, because France’s own secular constitution is more clear-cut than any other country, meaning that these contradictions between Islamic demands and the expectations of the republic collide with considerable regularity. The arguments are now practised. But they are also nuanced.
Even the ban on the wearing of the headscarf (and other “conspicuous” religious symbols) in public institutions was only passed a decade ago once French lawmakers realised it was an issue of the freedom of French Muslim women not to wear the headscarf that was at stake and not only the right to wear one.
What were the pressures within the Muslim community for women to cover? How could the state know?
These debates have been rehearsed several times since, not least when the republic banned face-coverings such as the Islamic veil in 2011. Like the burkini ban (which was struck down by a French court yesterday), the “burqa ban” encountered legal challenge. Yet even once it passed it has proved difficult to enforce, with “white knights” repeatedly coming forward to pay the penalties of any women fined for wearing the garment.
Nevertheless, the argument goes, it is a deterrent. On the French Left and Right many people believe that such small but clear markers of the republic’s core principle of laïcité are vital and will, over time, encourage France’s Muslims to become like everyone else. They portray the ability of the French state to make such stands as a position of strength.
What they are less willing to concede is not only that armed police telling a woman to undress on a beach gives ammunition to the clerics who insist that it is not Islam but the West that forces its “decadent” beliefs on people. But also that – like the Swiss ban on minaret-construction – none of this treats the core of the problem, most likely because it may well be beyond the power of any European state to address.
The most troubling part of that core has already been felt many times this summer. It started on July 14 when a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” ploughed a truck through the packed seafront of Nice, killing 86 people who were there to celebrate Bastille Day. In the days that followed, France and Germany were struck by a succession of Isil-inspired attacks. These included an axe-wielding immigrant on a train in Bavaria, a suicide-bomber outside a music festival in Ansbach and two men who entered a church in Rouen and slit the throat of the priest while he celebrated mass.
Although there has now been a hiatus in these attacks, nobody thinks that they are over. As Isil is pushed into retreat in Iraq and Syria, its desire to carry out “spectaculars” in the West will only grow. And besides, Isil is only one manifestation of a global extremism that existed before Isil and will continue after it and has a very large pool of potential recruits among the new populations of Europe.
To diminish that pool, European governments should avoid unnecessary policies (such as policing swimwear) that exacerbate unnecessary grievances and focus instead on those necessary policies – slowing Muslim immigration, carrying out proper vetting of those who arrive and expelling anyone who preaches hatred – whether they cause grievances or not.
With this approach currently seen as politically impossible, it is increasingly clear that the governments of Europe are preparing for the worst. In Germany in recent days, the government has been advising citizens to stockpile essentials, including water. A leaked government document also raises the issue of conscription in Germany.
For a country that last year took in perhaps as many as 1.5 million additional Muslims, these are signs of panic. Clearly the Germans are expecting that at some point one of the mass-casualty, possibly chemical or biological attacks that Islamist groups have been trying to carry out for years will be successful.
Aside from the fact there is little that the public in Germany, or Britain, could do in such a situation, such warnings are additionally unwise because they do much of the terrorists’ job for them. The German government and Chancellor Merkel, in particular, have a huge problem on their hands.
On the one hand, they cannot admit that their indiscriminate open borders policy – even before 2015 – to have been a mistake. On the other, they rightly fear the public backlash that is already nascent but which would explode should any mass casualty attack occur.
And so it is unsurprising that Germany has been having its own burkini debate in recent weeks, with politicians discussing the wisdom of a ban. It is not only the perfect summer story, but also the perfect modern European story. Not one life will be saved by banning the burkini. But the politicians who have presented Europe with this huge societal change now find they have no answers in the face of growing public anger at the circumstances they have brought about.
When a problem has no solutions, the only thing left to do is to change the topic. And so, in the wake of daily attacks, our continent is spending the summer talking beach-wear. Some people may think this is better than nothing. But it isn’t. It is fiddling while Europe boils.
Douglas Murray is associate director at the Henry Jackson Society