Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Burkini Ban: A reflection of our “multicultural” ethos

A French province was recently in the news for banning the burkini. This dress is designed for those Muslim women who’d prefer a full body bikini. A few days back, even a multinational brand had to face flak for releasing a clothing line on burkini.

France prides itself for the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity. The republic was a result of a protest against the entrenched conservative values of the feudal and monarchical order. The French revolution was one of the first of its kind in the world that heralded the egalitarian and liberal age of modernity where respect and toleration of differences were the cornerstones of this fundamental change.

And the French have come a long way from there to Burkini and Hijab ban. Islamophobia and hatred for immigrants have led to these extreme developments. Repeated terror attacks in the European cities and retaliatory ones on Muslims and others are common these days. This is a reflection on the levels of acceptance and accommodation we have for others.

Though the French Supreme Court has questioned the legality of this ban, the question here goes beyond what the constitution permits. It is what the normal citizens find acceptable. The comments of a public representative reflect his mindset when he commented that a woman wearing burkini would cause ‘public nuisance’ as people would think her as a terrorist.

The world where there is no diversity; where one kind of clothes, dress or behaviour gets privileged would be a nightmare to live in. It would cause alienation among the others and lead to a spike in communal hatred. Instead of blaming the immigrants, the West should be inclusive, as it preaches the others.

The branding of the Muslim community as terror-mongers is an unfortunate one. It follows from a historical territorial and cultural “invasion” of Islamic worlds by the West. Colonialism can be cited as an example. When a community feels threatened, it becomes even more closely drawn. A simultaneous process of Islamic conservatism like Iranian revolution and Taliban regime happened.

Thus, instead of banning or denouncing a way of life, we should respect the differences. Certain practices in many communities are discriminatory. But instead of rejecting them altogether, we should enter into a fruitful dialogue that would foster peace, not war.

Written by Rishya Dharmani
"Life is not a mystery, as they say, rather it is simplicity itself. Unlearn, fail and realize the true joy."

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