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

About Author

Annie Cappetta


ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Burkinis to bans: the slippery slope of Islamophobia”

  1. Amari Bruce says:

    It is unfortunate to see the way that Muslim women are being treated globally. Perhaps figures like the “Burka Avenger” will inspire younger generations to take initiative and fight for their religious freedom since there are currently so few public figures defending these women’s rights.

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

And another one... The stars just keep committing. A few hours after Miami Southridge’s nationally h ...

Want an early look at the incoming shooting guard who has a chance to become Miami’s best basketball ...

The University of Miami quarterback corps is deep in numbers but shallow in experience. The battle c ...

Freshmen anyone? Mark Richt sounds like he’s liking these three early-enrollee true freshmen a whole ...

The University of Miami completed Day Three of spring football on Saturday, and as soon as practice ...

More than 250 participants met at the UM Fieldhouse at the Watsco Center to learn more from industry ...

Redshirt freshman diver David Dinsmore won the NCAA national championship in the men’s 10-meter plat ...

UM junior Gina Panarese was surprised on campus Thursday by the Ellen DeGeneres show and asked to pa ...

A conversation with Belén Garijo and Felicia Marie Knaul. ...

Nova Southeastern University’s Jacqueline A. Travisano will be UM’s Executive Vice President for Bus ...

Highlights from the 2016-17 Miami men's basketball season ...

Miami fell to No. 34 University of Louisville, 4-1, Sunday at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center. ...

Facing its 10th top-30 opponent in 13 matches this season, the No. 37 Miami women's tennis team ...

Junior lefthander Michael Mediavilla was his vintage self, Miami's offense came through again, ...

Miami redshirt freshman David Dinsmore won the NCAA national championship in the men's 10-meter ...

TMH Twitter Feed
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 on Thursdays during the regular academic year.