French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, took to Facebook to express his support for the burkini ban on the country’s beaches even after the Conseil d’Etat deemed the ban “definitely illegal”.
Valls said the burkini is a symbol of “political Islamism” and therefore a political affirmation of these ‘values’ in public spaces. Though admitting theses values to be in the minority the Prime Minister, nonetheless, ploughed on to say:
“The vast majority of Muslims know that the burkini is unlikely alliance between the word and the word ‘bikini’ and ‘burqa’ – a word that says what it means!”
Ploughing on defying the French court’s decision Valls said that the debate will continue as it has done in the past.
“This order of the Council of State does not exhaust the debate that has opened in our society on the issue of the burkini” Valls wrote.
Referring to “substantive” debates surrounding laws passed the wearing of religious signs in 2004 and on the full veil in 2010, he added that “to remain silent, as in the past, is a small sacrifice.”
“Denouncing the Burkini does not in any way undermine individual freedom. There is no freedom that traps women! It’s denouncing an Islamism that is deadly.”
The connection to political ideals via clothing, the clothing worn by women, is not new, especially in France. It is the country, after all, that introduced banning of veiling garment in the public sphere since its colonial days.
Read more: The folly of the burkini ban
This leads to an uncomfortable fact: The political gain in creating and participating in polemic public debates.
From the outset of the recent debacle concerning the banning a swimsuit on several French beaches, many within France argued it a political stunt to bolster the power of minor politicians.
The wording of the ban in Nice linked the measure to last month’s jihadist truck attack in the resort town that killed 86 people.
What is the link between the terrorism and what a woman wears on a beach.
Read in French: Plusieurs maires veulent maintenir leur arrêté « anti-burkini »
The rise of small but loud voices from the extreme right has led to increases in attacks on minorities living across countries in Europe, the United States and Australia.
There was a 42 per cent spike in racist attacks in England and Wales, after the Brexit vote which was campaigned on grounds of immigrations fears.
Authors of the Post-referendum racism and xenophobia report say: “If a hostile environment’ is embedded politically, it can’t be a surprise that it takes root culturally.”
In Germany, attacks on asylum seeker centres starting in 2015 grew side by side with support for far-right political parties in the country.
There are many more examples showcasing a link between attacks on the street and words being thrown in the air politically. So much so that Australian federal police commissioner, Andrew Colvin, has warned politicians to be careful with the words they use.