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French Court Overturns Burkini Ban
French police force a woman to remove her clothing on a beach in Nice (Vantage)
This week’s snapshot focuses on France’s recent debate over the burkini, a piece of swimwear commonly worn by traditional Muslim women for modesty when swimming. In AUG2016, right-wing local officials in the French Riviera banned the Burkini, ostensibly as a security measure following the JUL2016 terrorist attack in Nice. Spurred by an incident where two French policemen forced a Muslim woman to strip off her burkini on a beach in Nice, outrage over both the burkini ban and the wearing of burkinis swept through France. French mayors and politicians across the political gamut have called the banning of the burkini, claiming it goes against French values, especially the French principle of laïcité, or secular government. Others, including the administration of President Francois Hollande, called for the repeal of the bans, calling them Islamophobic and discriminatory. French judges have overturned the ban, setting legal precedent, though some mayors continue to resist the ban despite international criticism.
News summary of events during the week of 29AUG16 – 05SEP16
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the Burkini ban
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the Burkini ban
Deirdre Clemente, Assistant Professor of History, University of Nevada
“People in positions of power say, ‘We’re putting these rules in place for the woman’s good.’ The implication is that women are unable to regulate their appearance themselves.”
Joan Wallach Scott, Professor Emerita, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton
“What you have in French republicanism is a conflict between a commitment to equality and the notion that sexual difference is a natural difference which explains why there can’t be equality between women and men.”
John Dalhuisen, Europe Director, Amnesty International
“By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fueled by and is fueling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand.”
Michael Leiter, Former Director, U.S. National Counterterrorism Center
“I think it certainly really can cause a schism, and schism is exactly what ISIS will look to take advantage of… Banning the burkini doesn’t produce terrorists. But it does make the people who are already alienated, who are already disenfranchised, in many cases, economically disenfranchised in a place like France in many of those neighborhoods, and make them say, Ah, ISIS’s message is true and real.”
Aheda Zanetti, Australian Fashion Designer, Designer of the BURQINI™/BURKINI™ brand
“The burkini swimsuit is freedom and happiness and lifestyle changes — you can’t take that away from a Muslim, or any other woman, that chooses to wear it… I wanted to introduce a full range of clothing to suit a Muslim woman — or any woman — that wanted a bit of modesty and wanted to participate in any sporting activities. It was also my aim for them not to be judged for who they are, or where they’re from, and who people think they’re representing.”
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the Burkini ban
Media: Associated Press
Date: 29 August 2016
PARIS (AP) — France’s Interior minister has gathered leaders of the country’s Muslim community, experts and lawmakers to mend relations between Islam and the French state undermined by the burkinis dispute.
Bernard Cazeneuve, who also has government responsibility for maintaining good relations with religious denominations, told the La Croix newspaper ahead of Monday’s meeting that he wants to create a foundation to help promote “an Islam of France” that respects French secular values.
Byline: Leigh Thomas and Myriam Rivet
Date: 29 August 2016
Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy said on Monday he would change the country’s constitution to ban full-body burkini swimsuits if he is re-elected to his former role in a vote next April.
Positioning himself as a defender of French values and tough on immigration, the conservative said last week that he would impose a nationwide ban on the swimwear that has divided the Socialist-led government and dominated French political debate through much of August.
Byline: Stephanie Nebehay
Date: 30 August 2016
The United Nations human rights office has called on French beach resorts to lift their bans on the burkini, calling them a “stupid reaction” that did not improve security but fueled religious intolerance.
France’s highest administrative court last Friday suspended one seaside town’s ban on the full-body swimsuit sometimes worn by Muslim women, on the grounds it violated fundamental liberties.
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 01 September 2016
London, Sept 1, 2016 (AFP) – Twice as many British people support a ban on women wearing a burqa than oppose one, with a majority also in favour of outlawing the burkini, according to a poll published Thursday.
Some 57 percent of the 1,668 adults polled by YouGov said they supported “a law that bans people from wearing the burqa in the UK”, with 36 percent “strongly supporting” the ban compared with only 10 percent who were “strongly opposed”.
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 02 September 2016
Paris (AFP) – France’s government sought Monday to open a new chapter in relations with the country’s Muslims following a summer scarred by jihadist attacks and a ban on burkinis that ratcheted up communal tensions.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve met with senior Muslim representatives and agreed that efforts to foster good relations will include the creation of an Islamic foundation, funded solely with money from within France.
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