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Protest at the French embassy against the burkini ban for Muslim women on Frances beaches on 25th August 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

"Un combat"

Muslim women candidly discuss burqini ban and daily life in Europe

By WITW Staff on September 2, 2016

As terror attacks have left European countries, including France and Belgium, reeling over the last year, and the debate over a contentious burqini ban has feelings running high, The New York Times wanted to find out what such a tense atmosphere means for the daily lives of Muslim women on the continent. The newspaper heard from more than 1,000 women, and a familiar theme emerged: daily life had become “un combat” (French for “a struggle”), as the women face growing amounts of prejudice and Islamophobia. Taslima Amar, a 30-year-old teacher, told the newspaper she and her husband considered leaving France. “For years, we have had to put up with dirty looks and threatening remarks,” wrote Amar, who teaches in Pantin, a Paris suburb. “I’ve been asked to go back home (even though I am home).” This sentiment is echoed by Charlotte Monnier, an architecture student in Toulouse, a city in the South of France. “I am insulted, spat on (literally) every day in the subway, on the bus, at school. Yet I have never insulted or hit someone. No, I am just Muslim. I am seriously thinking of going to live elsewhere, where other people’s looks won’t make me cry every night in my bed,” she wrote, adding that she is afraid she’ll one day have to wear a yellow crescent on her clothes “like the Star of David for Jews not so long ago.”

Several of the women discussed the way headscarves are frowned upon in public life, expressing their dismay at the fact that they are not allowed to wear the veil in their workplace. Saima Ashraf, a 39-year old French woman says she experiences more freedom in London, where lives now.. “As a Frenchwoman, I would never have achieved what I have in London while wearing the veil. I am a politician in local government, deputy leader of my borough, and I wear the scarf. If I were in France, forget about it,” she wrote.  The burqini ban is equally incomprehensible to these women: “This is everything I thought Europe was against. … How is it possible that in a ‘modern’ world, tanning naked is accepted but keeping your clothes on at the beach is not?” said Dina Srouji, a 23-year-old Belgian student. Ennaji Loubna, a 30-year-old sociology student from Perpignan, France was equally taken aback by the ban. “I am a woman who wears this full-coverage swimsuit. (“Burqini” is a term that is too loaded.)” she explained. “I used to settle for watching others enjoy the pleasures of swimming — at most I would go into the water in my street clothes, which is absolutely impractical. This piece of clothing has broken my chains.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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