Laïcité and Islam: the positions of Macron and Le Pen

Oumma.tv has published a compilation video of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen’s statements regarding Islam and laïcité.

Clips include Macron asking: “how can we ask our fellow citizens [Muslims] to believe in the Republic if certain people use laïcité to tell them there is no place for them here?” and later stating “there is no problematic religion in France.”

In one clip, Le Pen stated: “the veil is an act of submission for the woman.” She later announced her intention to bank the burkini, and linked the act of wearing one to being an Islamist. “Women actually take advantage of political Islam, which puts enormous pressure on them to impose its visibility,” she said.

Click here to watch the full video.

Burkini Ban: Algerian businessman pays women’s fines

Rachid Nekkaz, a wealthy Algerian entrepreneur and human rights activist, has stepped up to the plate to pay the penalty for any Muslim woman who is fined in France for wearing the burkini, a full-length swimsuit that covers the whole body except for the face, hands and feet.
“I decided to pay for all the fines of women who wear the burkini in order to guarantee their freedom of wearing these clothes, and most of all, to neutralize the application on the ground of this oppressive and unfair law,” Nekkaz said.
The burkini ban at some French beaches is the most recent move by Parisian politicians to prohibit religious attire in public.
After the Charlie Hebdo and Nice attacks, Nekkaz said a few politicians took advantage of the fear of Islam, which spread within the population, to try to reduce the number of freedoms in France, which he called an “unacceptable, inadmissible and intolerable move.”
Across Europe, similar bans are taking form, as the tide shifts toward more regulations in favor of restricting the traditional Islamic attire.
“And I don’t accept that these great countries such as France, Belgium, Switzerland or the Netherlands and now Germany, take advantage of this fear of Islam to reduce the number of personal freedoms,” Nekkaz said.

Muslim leaders critique burkini controversy

Amar Lasfar, President of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) and rector of the mosque in southern Lille, disapproved of the recent burkini controversy in a recent 20 Minutes interview. “For years, we have tried to attack radical Islam and terrorism, to tell Muslims that France does not target them, and this type of debate and decision has the inverse effect.”

In a letter addressed to Manuel Valls, Christian Estrosi, First Deputy of the Republicains to the mayor of Nice, wrote that “the complete covering of the face or body to go to the beach does not correspond with our ideal of social relations.”

Lasfar states that “the burkini is not part of the Muslim religion” and that he does not advocate wearing a burkini. But for religious leaders, that is not the point of the debate. “For me it’s not a question of religion, but of liberty,” says Lasfar. “But someone tell me what the difference is between a diving suit and a burkini.”

“That’s enough. It’s been blown out of proportion,” deplores Abdullah Zekri to BFMTV. The President of the Observatory Against Islamophobia stated he is “exasperated by everything I hear, Muslims, halal, the burka…”

 

French burkini ban sparks sales, says designer

Burkini bans in France have boosted sales and interest in the full-body Islamic swimsuit, particularly from non-Muslim women, the Australian credited with creating the design says.

The burkini has created controversy in France, with bans in 15 towns in the south-east and tension after deadly jihadist attacks. But Australian-Lebanese Aheda Zanetti, who claims the trademark on the name burkini and burqini, and created her first swimwear for Muslim women more than a decade ago, said on Tuesday the furore had attracted more publicity for her products.

“It’s just been so hectic,” she said.

“I can tell you that online on Sunday, we received 60 orders – all of them non-Muslim,” the 48-year-old from Sydney said. She usually received between 10 and 12 orders on Sundays.

Zanetti did not have sales figures for the rest of the past week but said she had also received numerous messages of support – and only one disparaging email – since the French bans.

They include messages from cancer survivors and other swimmers who use her lightweight, quick-drying, two-piece garments as protection from the sun.

There are other Islamic swimsuits but Zanetti has said her designs are the first to be streamlined into two-piece swimwear with a head covering.

“A lot of the correspondence … was that they are survivors of skin cancer and they’ve always been looking for something like this, saying, ‘Thank god we’ve found someone like this producing such a swimsuit,’ ” she said.

“The support I’m getting is somehow about empowering women … I feel like I’ve been a counsellor. It’s a cry of need that they want to have this enjoyment.

“Women are standing together on this. It doesn’t matter what race or religion.”

The one critical email questioned why Zanetti wanted to cover up women in France, saying “we prefer our women to be naked”.

 

French burkini ban sparks debate in UK

The ban on the burkini swimsuit on French beaches has triggered disdain in English-speaking countries, where outlawing religion-oriented clothing is viewed as hampering integration.

Commentators have condemned the ban as an absurdity, and one questioned how a burkini could be more offensive than “middle-aged bum crack” bursting out from Western beachwear.

Experts said the debate raised questions about the French one-size-fits-all model of integration.

In Britain, the full-face veil is not an uncommon sight in towns and districts with big Muslim populations, but does not stir as strong a reaction as in France.

Defenders of the policy say a common arena without religious connotations helps avoid sectarian conflicts and encourages equality.

As a result, the burkini — like the burqa before it — has come under fire in France. Some say it channels radical Islam and oppresses women.

“It is the expression of a political project, a counter-society, based notably on enslavement of women,” French PM Manuel Valls said of the burkini.

Such views are contested in Britain on the grounds of tolerance.

Britain’s best-known example of burkini-wearing was not by a Muslim but by TV chef Nigella Lawson, who hit the headlines in 2011 when she wore a black version of it on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.

A BBC look at the issue found women in Britain speaking in favour of the burkini and saying it aided integration.

“The burkini allows me the freedom to swim and go on the beach, and I don’t feel I am compromising my beliefs,” Aysha Ziauddin told the broadcaster.

Maryam Ouiles said: “It’s outrageous that you would effectively be asked to uncover some flesh or leave. People are always complaining that Muslims should integrate more, but when we join you for a swim that’s not right either.”

Commentator David Aaronovitch said only warped minds would impose a burkini ban.

“The idea that full-length clothing provokes attacks on the wearer displays a poisonous logic,” he said.

“No problems are solved by this French absurdity. Only new ones created.”

Request for women-only swimming hour in Amsterdam

A group of women in Amsterdam are seeking a women-only swimming session at an Amsterdam pool, Telegraaf reports. The women wear burkinis to swim but do not want their hands and feet to be visible should men be present. Local councillor Egbert de Vries argued that the pool already has a one-hour naked swimming session for men and should perhaps consider having a women-swimming session as well.

British swimming pools are imposing Muslim dress codes

Under the rules, swimmers — including non-Muslims — are barred from entering the pool in normal swimming attire. Instead they are told that they must comply with the “modest” code of dress required by Islamic custom, with women covered from the neck to the ankles and men, who swim separately, covered from the navel to the knees.

The phenomenon runs counter to developments in France, where last week a woman was evicted from a public pool for wearing a burkini — the headscarf, tunic and trouser outfit which allows Muslim women to preserve their modesty in the water.

But across the UK municipal pools are holding swimming sessions specifically aimed at Muslims, in some case imposing strict dress codes. Swimmers were told last week on the centre’s website that “during special Muslim sessions male costumes must cover the body from the navel to the knee and females must be covered from the neck to the ankles and wrists”.

Labour MP Anne Cryer, whose Keighley, West Yorkshire constituency has a large number of Muslims, said: “Unfortunately this kind of thing has a negative impact on community relations. It’s seen as yet another demand for special treatment. I can’t see why special clothing is needed for what is a single-sex session.”

French Pool Bans Burkini-Wearing Swimmer

Carole, a 35-year-old French convert to Islam has threatened legal action after she was evicted from a public pool for wearing a “burkini” – a veil, trouser and tunic covering that she said allowed her to swim while preserving her modesty. The case revolving around the Emerainville pool east of Paris (Seine-et-Marne) has reopened France’s bitter debate about female Muslim dress.

The local authorities in Emerainville said the case had nothing to do with Islam, but regulations stated that garments bigger than standard swimsuits, including men’s board-shorts, could not be worn in pools for hygiene reasons.

Woman in burkini kicked out of pool

A 26-year old woman was kicked out of a pool in the city of Zwolle for wearing a burkini. The woman was only in the water for a few minutes and had been playing with her son, before pool employees told her that there were complaints about her clothing. The manager of the pool defended the move, saying that they take into account all customer objections, including having special hours for obese pool-users. The burkini is an adapted form of swimwear that takes into account the emphasis of modesty in Islam, and minimizes skin exposure and tightness of bathing clothing.