Columnists, Opinion, Vantage Point

Burkinis to bans: the slippery slope of Islamophobia

During a lecture about security in South Asia, my professor discussed a Nickelodeon superhero program produced in Pakistan called “Burka Avenger.” A teacher at an all-girls school by day, Burka Avenger conceals herself in her burqa when the school is in danger, fighting crime and corruption with books and pens as weapons to keep her girls safe and in school.

Burka Avenger has a message of empowerment to young women: They can choose to dress as they like, they should fight for their right to be in school and religiosity should be a force for peace and progress, not destruction and radicalism.

When I read of some coastal French cities’ recent bans on “burkinis,” I thought that French Muslim women could really use a Burka Avenger to save the day. Though derived from the name, this swimwear is not like a burqa, which covers women head to toe, including their eyes. On the contrary, burkinis just cover the body and hair, like a wetsuit with a swim cap. The problem is, wetsuits and swim caps are still perfectly legal beach attire.

Bans on religious exercise on the basis of their religious significance alone are dangerous infringements on human rights. Arguments against burqas can be made due to the necessity of people being identifiable in public for security. Arguments for stronger background checks for migrants from areas with prevalent radicalization can also be rationalized.

Even these proposals can sometimes be problematic, but at least have some justification outside of religion. There is no such justification for banning burkinis or banning all Muslims from entering the United States. It is pure and simple religious discrimination when a French, Christian man can wear a wetsuit while a Muslim woman cannot wear a burkini.

Maybe it seems unfair to scrutinize France’s dress codes when, at home, Donald Trump has proposed the much more egregious Muslim ban.  At least such a ban in the United States is a widely decried proposal, not an implemented policy.

Luckily, France’s highest administrative court has since overturned the ban. But religious discrimination is a slippery slope down which these French cities have already gone too far.

Though lots of French and American Muslim women could use a Burka Avenger right now, the problem is, there is no real Burka Avenger. And there are increasingly few public figures and citizens willing to do her work of empowering women activists, ensuring religious dress is a personal choice every woman can make herself and defending religious freedom.

Annie Cappetta is a junior majoring in ecosystem science and policy and political science.

Featured image courtesy Pixabay user jusch

August 31, 2016

Reporters

Annie Cappetta


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Lonnie Walker excelled on the court during the NBA Combine in Chicago last week. The potential lotte ...

Athlon Sports released its projections for the 2018 college football season Monday. The predictions ...

Here is some impressive news for the University of Miami football program: All but one of the remain ...

Lonnie Walker IV stood out on and off the court at the NBA Draft Combine, which ended on Sunday in C ...

University of Miami incoming prep star Will Mallory, the other half of the soon-to-be No. 1 freshman ...

From boathouse to marine research powerhouse, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Scienc ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

Over his more than two decades at the U, the dean of students from 1976-1989 always put students fir ...

The final Sea Secrets lecture at the Rosenstiel School examines the biofluorescence of marine organi ...

Sinead Lohan and Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team earned ITA Southeast R ...

Sophomore righthander Evan McKendry and freshman Freddy Zamora were among those recognized by the At ...

Senior Jeb Bargfeldt was recognized as ACC Pitcher of the Week following a dominating performance ag ...

No. 7 seed Miami opens its run at the 2018 ACC Baseball Championship Tuesday, May 22 against No. 11 ...

Although 17th-year head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews has made Sweet 16 appearances commonplace the jour ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.