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The Burkini Contest

Prometheus had a tough paper round. Condemned to eternal torment by being shackled to a rock in adamantine chains, everyday his liver eaten by an eagle only to be healed by nightfall. 

Thankfully we are not bound by these chains. I do however compare such bondage to religious garments. The frequency in which we debate about religious clothing and the reluctancy for believers to give them up, it is as if the cloth is a second skin. Debate was sparked not too long ago on a French beach. 

She lay there on the sand, a moment of solitude interrupted by officers taking the role of fashion police. Her devotion to God more visible than herself, her clothing a concern considerable enough to be forced to remove. I am of course talking of the earlier this year at Promenade des Anglais, shortly after the Bastille Day attacks. Siam  was sunbathing when she was told to remove clothing not “respecting good morals and secularism”. 

I go back to this story as it is one that I have planned to do for a while. Postponed due to travel and book writing yet it is still relevant today with similar stories pushed around in the topics of atheism, religion, terrorism and feminism.

Social unease in the aftermath of a terrorist incident has us walking on eggshells. This is not fair on the innocents suffering the stigma by the fundamentalists of their religion. It is greater shame that 86 people had their lives taken so violently underneath a speeding lorry. This too, is not fair. I say a greater shame due to the obvious increase in suffering endured by the murdered. To say a petition to ban pitbulls is as bad or worse than a pitbull biting a child’s face off, would be crazy. Not to say a petition to ban all pit bulls is an appropriate response, nor that they deserve such a petition (in the case above, the ban on ‘burkinis’). The suffering simply isn’t equal.
I would feel offended to have my good will questioned. I, however, would condone the violent fundamentalists of my own religion more than those outside of it walking around with increased anxiety.

We often forget that religious garments aren’t adamantine chains. Believers would have us believe otherwise with such strict adherence to the practice. That’s the beauty of atheism. I can wear what I want, when I want. This freedom does not affect my rational thinking, I am capable of understanding when certain items may be inappropriate. I know not to wear a clown suit to a funeral or a gimp mask to a first date. To freely wear what I want when I want is not a road to anarchy.

Offence is guaranteed when debating whether burkinis are acceptable and niqabs respectful. What should be most depressing  is the commitment to wear such restrictive clothing, using the freedom of choice to take away an individual’s identity and with that, choice. Too many people are yet to wake up to the realisation that they do not have to give themselves to someone, even if the belief is that someone created them. A life in the free world bearing striking similarities to that of many women in oppressive societies, usually for the benefit of men, is a life wasted. If I was released from prison, I wouldn’t build a home and life outside of the barbed wire fencing.

If the Burkini is to deter objectification, why please a god creating misogynistic men? If it is worn to hide insecurities, for what reasons do you praise God?

Sometimes, hurting feelings is inevitable when letting someone know they have been hurting themselves. Supporting anyone willing to hang up their religion and walk away isn’t bigotry. The bigotry is surely allowing them put it back on.


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