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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

The French burkini ban is... too revealing

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 24, 2016

On beaches in France, where topless sunbathing is common, police are now forcing some women to strip, enforcing a ban on the Muslim burkini. If this seems like madness—and it does—the reasoning behind the policy is even crazier.

French officials are reacting—quite understandably, indeed tardily—to the threat posed by radical Islam. But a ban on the burkini will not stop terrorism. The argument that a Muslim woman might be hiding weapons under her bathing costume is palpably absurd. Any weapon that could be hidden under a burkini could also be smuggled onto the beach in other ways. Even a woman wearing a string bikini could carry a pistol in her tote bag.  

Is the burkini ban intended to curb the tensions that arise between Muslims and their secular neighbors in public places? It will undoubtedly have the opposite effect. Muslim women humiliated by the police will be even more alienated; their menfolk will be even angrier. 

Moreover, in this case they will have reason for their anger. The policy is blatantly discriminatory, aimed solely at Muslims. The burkini ban surely cannot be justified as an enforcement of community standards. The community has no standards: a fact that can be discerned by anyone walking on the French beaches. Or has the meaning of "community standards" on the beaches at Cannes been so radically changed that they require revealing beachwear, so that orthodox Jews and Christians might soon be ordered to show more skin?

There are, indeed, aspects of Islamic fundamentalism that are inimical to a free and open society. (The face-veil, for example, is dehumanizing.) The desire to wear a modest bathing costume is not one of them. It is revealing (yes, that's the word) that in this weird response to a culture that shows no respect for women, secular France tells those same women to take off their clothes. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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