16 August 2016

Burkini ban controversy

The Cannes burkini ban have triggered, as expected, furious reactions from the usual suspects.

Oddly enough, even though I'm allergic to arguments like "Muslim women have the right to wear what they choose" (what if a Muslim woman chooses to wear an explosive belt?), I've reached the same conclusion albeit through the use of an entirely different line of reasoning. The ban is wrong.

One hot summer day I was enjoying myself at a big pool in an amusement park in central Israel. All around me were people in swimsuits, except for one young woman in a traditional Islamic dress, all black, and the mandatory hair cover. She was accompanied by a young man, probably her husband. They entered the water fully dressed. Nobody cared, and I wouldn't have remembered it if it wasn't for the expression on the young woman's face. Obviously this was her first time in a pool. She was literally beaming with joy, there was so much happiness and wonder in her eyes, and deep gratitude for the man beside her that made this experience possible.

Now imagine that the amusement park management had at the time decided on a "swimsuits only" policy. This sweet young woman, trapped in a world with strict behavior codes, could not change her black dress for a swimsuit. She would have been left behind, locked in her world by our inability to understand that she really had no choice in the matter.

The burkini ban is effectively locking Muslim women out of our world. This is sad, and wrong.