The Burkini Ban Is a Frightening New Stage in France’s Descent into Islamophobia Fanaticism

A French mayor is regulating Muslim women's beachwear.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Every major newspaper has now covered the story of yet another ban targeting French Muslim women. After banning the headscarf in public schools, banning veiled Muslim mothers from attending school field trips, prohibiting self-employed nannies from wearing a headscarf, after the French Minister of Women’s Affairs compared veiled Muslim women to “Negroes in favour of slavery,” and even after the former president Nicolas Sarkozy declared that veiled Muslim women are not welcome in France and his party mate Nadine Morano compared them to Nazis, the mayor of the city of Cannes has issued a decree prohibiting the full body swimsuit, or burkini, on public beaches.

The reason? “Good morals and laïcité”—the French term for separation of religion of state, which has been twisted beyond recognition. The mayor went even further by saying such outfits are “the uniforms of people we are at war with.”

This ban on the burkini means much more than excluding veiled Muslim women from another place in French society. Now a mayor can publicly say even though the law prohibits him from doing so, he can issue decrees specifically targeting people according to their faith and be willing to go to court for it. The silence from the government means nothing less than its tacit agreement on the anti-Muslim demagogy.

Islamophobia has reached a new height (or low) in Europe, particularly in France, and there is no reason to be optimistic as both the left and the right share the same view on how to deal with Muslim citizens.

Given the upcoming presidential elections in France, the primaries and the state of social unrest, we are unfortunately bound to bring more stories on islamophobia and national security issues.

Listen to Yasser Louati on BBC discussing the Cannes burkini ban and wider trends of Islamophobia in France:

Yasser Louati is a French human rights and civil liberties activist. Follow him on Twitter at @yasserlouati.

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