Editor's note: This piece was written by Camilla Curnis, 23, from Italy, with quotes from Global Young Voices members of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, to express their opinion on the seemingly unfair ban.
Last week, a picture of a French policeman confronting a Muslim woman on the beaches of the French Riviera started circulating on the web and covered many front pages the next morning. The controversy arose after the woman was given a ticket for wearing a burkini on the beach in Cannes. According to over 30 French Riviera mayors who decided to ban the burkini, this dress code does not respect good customs and secularism. The initiative was subsequently endorsed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
A few days later, the controversy seemed to be put to rest, with the state council declaring that such ban “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms.” As of now though, the debate seems far from over. In fact, over 20 communes of the French Riviera, including Nice, refused to withdraw the ban. Further, former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for the 2017 presidential election, seemed to be riding the wave of the burkini ban to gather extra votes. In case re-elected, he promised to change the French constitution to make the burkini ban legal.
Many media outlets have spoken broadly on the topic, interviewing religious and political pundits, Muslim and Christian leaders, but few have asked for what the youth thinks. And at the end of the day, it is the youth that will live the longest with the changed constitution that Sarkozy is planning to have. We will be impacted the most, and for this, we deserve a say.
So we decided to bring the opinion of the global youth to the table, with writers from different countries represented within Global Young Voices expressing their opinion on a ban that marks the criminalization of clothing.
As a young Italian and a devoted European, I can comfortably say that the burkini ban is a disappointment. The reason why is fairly simple: "The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality." In order, how are we respecting human dignity when forcing a woman to take her clothes off in public? How are we providing liberty when making a woman comply to our own concept of bathing suit? How are we ensuring democracy when we are not allowing a minority within our country to profess their religion? And how are we providing equality by condemning women, a gender minority within a religious minority in Europe?
Having laid out how this ban goes against the founding values of the European Union, the reason why politicians implement it must be of utmost worthiness. And what could be more important to politicians than increasing their chances to win the upcoming elections? It is not by chance that in France, the country that formulated the ban, elections will be held as early as 2017. So have our politics fallen as low as riding the wave of propaganda and populism to gather extra votes? Where have our farsighted and noble values gone?
Cover credit: Regis Duvignau/Reuters