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Call for the EU to Force France to Abolish the Burkini Ban

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As many may have heard by now, the burkini (a swimsuit typically worn by Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab, covering everything apart from a woman's face and hands) has been banned in some cities in France.

As a member of the European Union, France is obligated to follow EU Human Rights law. I believe that the burkini ban is a violation of the EU's Human Rights Policy and urge the EU to force France to abolish this ban as it infringes on the social, cultural, and religious rights of Muslim women. I would first like to begin with an excerpt from the European Union's webpage on human rights (https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/human-rights_en which reads as follows:

"EU policy includes:

  • working to promote the rights of women, children, minorities and displaced persons
  • opposing the death penalty, torture, human trafficking and discrimination
  • defending civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights
  • defending the universal and indivisible nature of human rights through full and active partnership with partner countries, international and regional organisations, and groups and associations at all levels of society." 

Countries that are members of the European Union are meant to follow EU policy. As mentioned above, that includes promoting the rights of women and minorities (which Muslim women are) as well as defending people's cultural and social rights (i.e. the right to wear whatever clothing they wish or the right for one's culture and/or religion to be respected). 

In banning the burkini, these French cities have:

  1. Violated a group of minority women's rights to dress as they wish (being that Muslims make up about 7.5% of France's total population  according to Pew Research Center, it is safe to assume that Muslim women comprise of about 3.75% of the French population, making them a minority) 
  2. Essentially banned headscarf-wearing Muslim women from enjoying the beach (which, in my opinion, makes as much sense as banning people from standing under the shade of a tree whilst wearing sunglasses)
  3. Created a law that is rather futile considering Muslim women are allowed to wear the headscarf when they aren't at a beach
  4. Created a law out of the lack of understanding and tolerance of a religious group
  5. Further discriminated against a group of people that are already very much discriminated against worldwide
  6. Potentially contributed to a rise in Islamophobia, making French Muslims fear for their safety even more. This may also lead them to believe that the French government sees French Muslims as second-class citizens, with little to no concern for their well-being (which, in my opinion, assists terrorist organisations such as ISIS who prey on the vulnerability of Muslims who feel discriminated against in their own societies)

France prides itself on maintaining a secular society, however, the French government seems to forget what a truly secular society is meant to be. As defined on National Secular Society's website (http://www.secularism.org.uk/what-is-secularism.html):

"The separation of religion and state is the foundation of secularism. It ensures that religious groups don't interfere in affairs of state, and makes sure the state doesn't interfere in religious affairs... Secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens. Secularism is not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non-believers alike."  

Being a truly secular society means being tolerant and respectful of the beliefs, practices, and lifestyles of its inhabitants (so long as they do not negatively affect the safety and/or infringe on the rights of others).

It is time for the European Union to take action against the discriminatory laws that France has imposed on its Muslim population.  

“It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha  



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