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Banning the Burkini

Aug. 25 2016

In the past week, French beaches have taken steps to ban the burkini—a full-body swimsuit invented by an Australian Muslim woman who wanted to make it easier for her devout female coreligionists to bathe publicly. Supporters of the ban—including both right-wing politicians and the socialist prime minister Manuel Valls—claim that it is a wise response to the wave of terrorist attacks in their country. Nervana Mahmoud, who was not allowed by her family to swim in her native Egypt, disagrees, with reservations:

As a liberal woman, I have no problem with the burkini because I believe in freedom of choice, but as a Muslim woman, I find the burkini problematic for two reasons.

First, it symbolizes a perception that women who cover up within the Muslim world are superior to those who do not. . . . Second, many Islamists advocate total segregation [of the sexes], and are not content with the burkini. One might presume that once Muslim women agree to cover up fully, the [conservatives] will finally leave them alone. But the opposite is true. The more women give in and cover up, the higher [extremists] will raise the stakes. . . .

It may surprise many, but the harassment of women on public beaches, which is prevalent in Muslim countries, is almost negligible in Western countries, despite the revealing swimming costumes many women wear. Even in Egypt, the harassment of non-burkini- wearing women is much less [common] in upmarket beach resorts. . . .

The debate on the ban of the burkini in France is yet another example that the troubles of the Middle East do not remain in the Middle East.

Read more at Nervana

More about: European Islam, France, Islam, Islamism, Liberalism, Modesty, Religion & Holidays

The Summary: 10/7/20

Two extraordinary events demonstrate something important about Israel’s most fervent adversaries. One was a speech given at something called The People’s Forum (funded generously by Goldman Sachs), which stated, “When the state of Israel is finally destroyed and erased from history, that will be the single most important blow we can give to destroying capitalism and imperialism.”

The suggestion that this tiny state is the linchpin of a global, centuries-old phenomenon like capitalism goes well beyond anything resembling rational criticism. Even if Israel were guilty of genocide, apartheid, and oppression—which of course it is not—it would not follow that its destruction would help end capitalism or imperialism.

The other was an anti-Israel protest that took place in front of New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, deemed “complicit” in Israel’s evils. At organizers’ urging, participants shouted their slogans at kids in the cancer ward, who were watching from the windows. Given Hamas’s indifference toward the lives of Gazan children, such callousness toward non-Palestinian children from Hamas’s Western allies shouldn’t be surprising. The protest—like the abovementioned speech—deliberately conveyed the message that Israel is the ultimate evil and its destruction the ultimate good, cancer patients be damned.

The fact that Israel’s adversaries are almost comically perverse does not mean that they can be dismissed. If its allies fail to understand the obsessive and irrational hatred that it faces, they cannot effectively help it defend itself.

Read more at Mosaic