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Speak out against the burkini ban

This petition had 61,559 supporters

Dear Mister President,

As citizens, we are worried by the climate of exclusion and oppression that has been triggered by the ban on so called “burkinis”. As social inequality researchers we initiated this petition because we are troubled by the fact that, once again, women’s bodies have become the site of a political battlefield. The same people that find the burkini oppressive are unaffected by the gender inequalities that are well documented in our country and not on the decline.

Mr. President, we ask you to please step-up and respond to end these human rights violations and the climate of exclusion created by the burkini ban.

Like a bad dream we saw photos, sprawled over the pages of the Guardian, the Daily Mail etc, of armed French police forcing a woman to undress on the beach in Cannes. Freedom of dress may not a fundamental right in the legal sense, but we believed that we were living in a free country. We took for granted being able, to freely dress, travel, dance, and relax in a café or on a beach. Today these freedoms are challenged, under threat. All the conditions for confrontation and civil strife are present. Why was this woman undressed? Was she threatening public order? Was her outfit indecent among holiday makers in swimsuits? Did her veil make her a suspect of terrorism? Of course not! It was in the name of "French identity" that this woman suffered anti-Muslim discrimination (not anti-Islamist).

These actions will only escalate the tensions between French people, and exclude all those who think that we should be allowed to practice our religions, whatever they are, while respecting French law.

Who can tolerate a culture where a woman is made to undress under threat? This is causing anger among those are being excluded, disgraced and stigmatized. How far might this situation go? Are we to see armed policemen arresting citizens because they are wearing a monokini, a pair of sneakers or a beard?The typical response is well known: the veil is the symbol of women’s oppression. In many countries where women's rights are violated, the veil is mandatory and controlled by the police. In reducing human rights in France, we are aligning ourselves with the most repressive countries in terms of women's rights and human rights, prohibiting something here which is mandatory there. Under these circumstances we can no longer defend the values ​​of freedom and fraternity to which we were once committed.

The usual calls for Muslims to take a stand against terrorism and advocate peace are multiplying. Yet it is the responsibility of all of us to respond and fight against human rights restrictions. We must refuse these divisions between people in France. It is our collective responsibility to reduce inequalities between men and women in France, to defend the rule of law and freedom, to stop harassing women and stop actions that promote the rejection of Muslims. 

Other countries provide an example, showing us that we do have a choice. Since January 2016, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have offered their Muslim officers the choice of wearing the hijab with their uniforms so that the Canadian police force can reflect the diversity of their country

Please, Mr. President, use your authority to promote diversity within our society, to end the current climate of exclusion that challenges human rights.

Yours respectfully,

Michelle Kelly-Irving and Thierry Lang

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