The petty fashion police in Nice, France were out in full force on Tuesday, slapping Muslim women wearing Muslim-esque clothes with fines and even forcing one woman to remove her garments in public to show more skin.
Four Nice policemen forced a Muslim woman in Nice wearing something akin to a burkini to remove it, in public, on the beach. As one Twitter user acutely commented, it’s like the “inverse Taliban” in action.
The policemen, armed with batons and pepper spray no less, approached the lounging middle-aged woman on the Promenade de Anglais who was wearing a blue headwrap, matching tunic, and black leggings.
She was reportedly mere yards away from where a crazed, supposedly Muslim truck driver pummeled into a crowd this past Bastille Day.
It’s unclear from the now-viral photograph just how much the sister had to strip down in order to appease the group of officers who surrounded her. But, since she violated the recently enacted “burkini ban,” she was fined and required to remove some of the very clothes she was wearing for the sake of modesty.
From the photographs of her, it appears that she was wearing her scarf turban-style, exposing her neck.
It may sound trite or even misogynistic for me to mention that fact, but it’s not be missed that these French municipalities were the first ones to split hairs over fashion.
And, it is fashion full stop – be it “modest” or “immodest” depending on your own personal spectrum of what wearing hijab and being modest means to you.
The clothing that a person wears is a choice, is a performance, is inextricably linked to the plastic world in which we live. It’s all fashion, despite what French premier Manuel Valls claims it to be. (hint: a symbol “of the enslavement of women.”)
Nevermind that her “burkini”– which it technically was not — was also protecting her skin from sun damage. Nevermind that her clothing was basically skin-tight exposing her curves anyway. Nevermind the freedom of expression, freedom of religion, or just your plain basic “freedoms” on which the western European country prides itself.
France, by the way, outlawed wearing niqab in 2011. Freedom of expression, religion, has been under fire in the country for years.
The clothing that a person wears is a choice, is a performance, is inextricably linked to the plastic world in which we live. It’s all fashion, despite what French premier Manuel Valls claims it to be.
Frankly, when I first saw the photograph of the sister on the Promenade de Anglais in the midst of taking off her over-shirt in front of ogling beachgoers and surrounded by officers, I was speechless.
We could complain how it’s a symptom of deep-rooted Islamophobia caused by outdated French colonial fantasies. Easily, we could. We do, and that’s worthwhile, but it’s not always healthy to respond with more anger.
Instead, could I suggest reading and reflecting on the Surah Al-Hadid? For me, it offers a valuable reflection upon this notion that our physically manifested lives are based on falsehoods, and can bring solace when faced with the world’s nonsense.
Surah Al-Hadid reads, “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” [57:20]
Yes, the sister had to remove clothes in public. It was the law and she may not have been aware of it or maybe she was, but the law is the law and we are not above it.
Instead, we can roll with it and adapt, no matter how infuriating a situation may be.
Written by Carol Nisar.