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Back News Comment Women’s liberation and the French burkini ban

Women’s liberation and the French burkini ban

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The undressing of Muslim women by French authorities has a long colonial history


Following on from Natalie Nougayrède’s article (The burkini ban ruling is a start, 26 August), it is worth considering that, when it comes to Muslim women’s dress, the French state has historically regrouped after rulings by the Conseil d’Etat, the highest administrative court.

The 2004 ban on religious symbols in schools, which primarily affects Muslim wearers of headscarves, came after the Conseil d’Etat found in favour of individual schoolgirls expelled from school for wearing headscarves in 1989.

The control of women’s bodies is nothing new. Lacking the nuance of many versions, the French attempts at regulating the clothing of Muslim women sully the work of feminists, womanists and everyone else seeking liberation from stifling patriarchal societal norms.

The latest in a long line of humiliations is the case of the Muslim woman at the beach in Nice last week. The forced removal of her clothing by armed police officers exposes the fallacy of the idea that laws policing women’s bodies somehow contribute to their liberation.

The undressing of Muslim women by French authorities has a long colonial history. Such a practice of imperial subjugation goes against women’s empowerment and should have no place in today’s society. We stand in solidarity with Muslim women in France and condemn the practice of stripping women at gunpoint and fining them for their beliefs.

Arzu Merali Islamic Human Rights Commission
Dr Kasia Narkowicz University of York
Professor Gurminder K Bhambra University of Warwick
Samantha Asumadu Media Diversified
Professor Stevi Jackson University of York
Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills Priest, Church of England
Professor Marie Breen-Smyth University of Surrey
Houria Bouteldja Parti des Indigènes de la République, France
Professor Victoria Robinson University of York
Sedigheh Bahmanpour Filmmaker
Dr Marta Araujo University of Coimbra, Portugal
Azeezat Johnson University of Sheffield
Dr Katy Sian University of York
Esther Stanford-Xosei Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe
Onjali Rauf Founder, Making Herstory
Dr Julia Suárez-Krabbe Roskilde University, Denmark
Amina Taylor Journalist
Humera Khan An Nisa Society
Khalida Khan An Nisa Society
Nargess Moballeghi Journalist
Freya Billington University of Gloucestershire
Dr Narzanin Massoumi University of Liverpool
Amrit Wilson Freedom Without Fear Platform
Hodan Yusuf Poet
Hafsah Aneela Bashir Spoken-word artist
Dr Louise Livesey University of Gloucestershire, Oxford Feminist Network
Rachel Hewson-Thornton York Feminist Network
Sofia Ahmed Journalist
Lidia Kurasinska Journalist
Dr Evangeline Tsao University of York
Anaïs Duong-Pedica University of York
Maryam Jameela University of Sheffield
Dr Angie Sandhu
Dr Ann Kaloski-Naylor University of York
Dr Silvia Maeso University of Coimbra, Portugal
Andree Murphy Relatives for Justice, Belfast
Patricia Schor Utrecht University, Netherlands
Dr Sukaina Hirji GP
Dr Suzella Palmer University of Bedfordshire
Dr Claire Chambers University of York
Anna Carnegie University of York
Charlotte Jones University of Sheffield
Nicole Froio University of York
Gemma Gibson University of York
Dr Katherine Edgar York Feminist Network

The letter and the above signatories were featured in The Guardian on 2 September 2016

Further signatories can be found below:

Shaheen Kasmani Artist & Educator
Adeela Ahmed Shafi Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Gloucestershire
Sandra Easton-Lawrence CheltFems
Kerri Russell Oxford Feminist Network
Mary Thewlis Oxford Feminist Network
Sandra Easton-Lawrence CheltFems
Kerri Russell Oxford Feminist Network
Mary Thewlis Oxford Feminist Network
Bethany Pitcher Secretary, University of Exeter Feminist Society
Sachal Khan Vice President, University of Exeter Feminist Society
Isabelle Elliot Campaigns Officer, University of Exeter Feminist Society
Emma Berill University of Exeter Feminist Society
Kate Burgess University of Exeter Feminist Society
Katja Frisinger Publicity Secretary, University of Exeter Feminist Society
Emily Fallon University of Exeter Feminist Society
Catherine MacGeorge University of Exeter Alumna
Benedikta Fones University of Exeter Students' Guild Liberation Officer
Natasa Christofico DVP Sustainability, University of Exeter
Joesphone Privett Social Secretary, University of Exeter LGBTQ+ Society
Emily Millwood University of Exeter Feminist Society
Amy Bately University of Exeter Feminist Society
Veena Chandar BAME Officer, University of Exeter Labour Society
Carmen Paddock University of Exeter
Heledd Gwyn Wilshaw University of Exeter Feminist Society
Eaindra Cho Shadow Councillor, Univeristy of Exeter Students' Guild
Isabella Marcantonio University of Exeter Feminist Society
Leah Fuller University of Exeter Students' Guild
Ildem Esin Vice President, University of Exeter Dead Poets Society
Fran Cooke University of Exeter Feminist Society
Kate Byard President, University of Exeter Feminist Society

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