France has a terror problem. No one can seriously debate that fact, or the international impression left on people in and out of the country who have watched multiple mass terrorist attacks across the country.
The French government was compelled to do something by an increasingly panicked populace and by tourists who were canceling their Paris travel plans by the thousands. So they … banned burkinis? Yes, they did. When called upon to make a major socio-political statement against radical Islam, the French banned a bathing suit. And then they lit the fuse on a political poweder keg.
Sales of the body covering swimsuit exploded, as did the rage on the internet. The debate is flowing from the halls of French government to the mobile devices of people across the world. Detractors say the French government is making a bigoted gesture, or that they have no standing to determine what people wear to the beach.
Supporters of the ban say they are setting a standard that French culture is French culture, that religious tenets that demean women have no place in that culture.
Those who sell burkinis say the suits are not meant to demean women, but to allow them more freedom while also allowing them to adhere to their cultural expectations.
Others say the suits might have started off as religiously based purchases, but that their clientele has grown to include women who just want to cover up more or those who want to keep out of the sun.
But the French politicians behind the ban say it’s all part of a move to prohibit religious attire in public. This is not the first move of this kind in France. The country became the first European country to officially ban the burqa back in 2011. The outrage following that decree came from mostly fundamentalist Muslims – and mostly from well outside France. Yet the decision received fairly strong support among the French people.
This latest move, though, is receiving much less cohesive popular approval. French women don’t like being told what to wear to the beach, no matter what their creed or religion. And they are letting their government know in one of the most effective ways – at the cash register.