The faux outrage fomented after a handful of French mayors banned the burkini represents the latest failure of Western feminism to stand up for women against the nefarious alliance between hardcore Islamists and leftists that is rolling back sexual equality globally.
The cacophony of French-bashing across the media and political spectrum in the UK and US is not only offensive to women everywhere — it is a betrayal of a significant group of Muslims in France, Francophone North Africa, and elsewhere, who have taken a stand against rising extremism.
The mainstream or “moderates” abhor the so-called “Islamic swimwear” perversely created from a mélange of the Taliban’s burka and the bikini. This politico-religious “fashion” has been encouraged and commercialized in recent years by a fundamentalist Saudi-derived Wahhabist puritanical fringe obsessed with feminine ‘modesty’ and that temptress incarnate — the female body.
Yet frothing commentators in the West, insensitive to the trauma of a nation that has suffered several years of successive terrorist attacks by jihadist fanatics who among other atrocities, demand women cover up or die, pour scorn on the French for daring to challenge the Islamo-gauchist orthodoxy. Worse, they ignore the brave Muslim dissidents of France and elsewhere fighting the imposition of a radical extremist vision of Islam and gender on the harassed silent majority of their faith.
The comments of these whistle-blowers go mostly unremarked and unreported outside Paris. Yesterday the highly respected Tunisian-born French broadcast journalist Sonia Mabrouk braved an army of trolls to declare on Twitter that “Those who mock the burkini ‘debate’ pretend to see only simple swimming attire in this provocation” and thus revealed their own “blindness” to reality. For her outspokenness Mabrouk was vilified on the social network as “f…ing stupid fool” and a “useful Arab” being wheeled out to attack Muslims. Earlier the Europe 1 and Public Senat TV presenter declared that “behind the burkini lies the Wahhabist ideology and its propaganda that is spreading insidiously and dangerously”.
Asked about the scoffing foreign press reports and among a minority of the French commentariat, Mabrouk told me she was “appalled by all these women and men who play down, and even ridicule this debate over the burkini — declaring that it is about a simple full-body swim suit”.
“This is culpable blindness. The burkini is not an anodyne item of clothing. It is a provocation in the sense that Islamism (and not Islam) is today engaged in a strategy of conquering spirits. To not see this, and to not say it, constitutes great hypocrisy. There are more and more forces who want to impose a rigorist and obscurantist Islam at the heart of Western societies, taking advantage of an absence of reference points and identity among certain men and women.”
Mabrouk insists the enemies of this rigorist Islam are firstly those Muslims who are not correctly described as “moderate” – she does not like this term – “but simply Muslims who know their religion and its practice in the private sphere”.
“This is why along with others, I consider myself a rampart and I will not shy away from these terribly sensitive issues. As soon as I speak out on these issues, I am attacked as the “useful Arab” who has “sold out” – this is the typical tactic of denigration.”
As the political reporter points out she is not alone in standing up to the ultra-radicals. Algerian-born French center-right political identity and author Lydia Guirous scolded Prime Minister Manual Valls for opposing the burkini but refusing to act firmly against it. Cairo-based editor Aalam Wassef argued in Liberation newspaper — unlike the UK, the French left-wing press refuses to publish only one view on the burkini — that the French “should not be naïve”. In Wassef’s analysis the burkini is a symbol of the Saudi-derived Wahhabist ideology of self-styled “authentic” and “pure Islam” that sees women as impure unless they are covered in public (“Neither more authentic, nor purer, Wahhabism is simply the youngest religious current, and the richest”, he says.). Wassef even demolished the alleged neutrality of the French Committee Against Islamophobia, the radical mosque and hate-preacher-linked CCIF for denouncing the burkini bans as “Islamophobic” attacks on the freedom of expression of Muslim women.
“In taking this position the CCIF is posing not as a defender not of ‘some Muslims of France’ but of a very particular extremist movement — Wahhabism of France,” he said.
As the scholar of Egyptian political uprisings and most recently the Arab Spring protests notes: “Islam and Wahhabism are radically different and the latter has been menacing the former for more than two centuries”.
There should therefore be “no shame in condemning Islamist extremism and putting up roadblocks via all possible legal means. There is nothing politically incorrect or comparable to the racist and anti-Muslim discourse of the [far right] National Front”.
An Algerian newspaper also questions French Muslims insisting on their privatized pool or beach burkini days, urges discretion, and says neither the burka nor the burkini have any connection with the fundamentals of Islam.
The voices of the conscientious objectors are numerous and loud, yet all the foreign press and commentators harp on is the seeming assault on the liberties of these women sporting burkinis despite the tense terrorist-inflected social situation. Acclaimed Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jalloun, who implored French Muslims to come out en masse into the streets after last month’s beheading of a Catholic priest in Normandy, has deplored the clamor for bikini bans on Morocco beaches and called for a rejection of the “vicious and perverse” “beach burka” which he says has nothing to do with real Islam.
It is one thing to debate and discuss whether the ban on the burkini at certain beaches in France is a sound political or judicial measure. But it is quite another to raucously barrack, as many Islamist champions in the Western media do under the guise of “freedom of choice” for the attire itself and even the fanaticism behind it. When do any of the madding crowd point out that the burkini-wearer’s male companions are free to parade around in board shorts and skimpy swimwear?
Better to listen to courageous voices like Mabrouk who explains that today Islamism is “waging a war of attrition on us, it is testing our resistance and our defenses” – and that this is the case with the burkini which must be taken for what it is: a direct assault on the notion that women’s bodies like men’s are not inherently “immodest”.
“The goal is to make us retreat and at the same time make us guilty regarding the freedom of these women to wear the burkini,” Mabrouk says
“I see the burkini as a standard bearer, a form of identity-obsessed exhibitionism. I believe that more than ever it is women who must lead this fight in France, in Europe and elsewhere. I was born in Tunis and after the revolution it was women who battled to guarantee and instill their rights in the new constitution. They are and we are the ramparts. Islamism wants to appropriate the bodies of women to entrench its ideological presence in people’s minds. We will not let ourselves be pushed around like this, not today and not tomorrow.”