By Akif Sattar.
Perhaps the Burkini ban issue of France is more likely an outcome of anti-feminist thinking rather than any religious phobia. However, social media and freelancers are at liberty to decipher the debate from their own perspective. We have been witnessing the ever widening divide between liberals and rightists not only in Pakistan but it seems that it is a global phenomenon with few exceptions. The moderate ones are shrinking in their numbers just because of the growing divide, when debates take place on media, social media and at any other forum, most of the people of moderate minds, they forced to take sides or somehow their sub-conscious start responding to one of the discussed extremes. In this way the split is broadening day by day.
It was a decade old development when a fashion designer in Australia came up with a solution for Muslim Women to have fun and fitness keeping themselves as per their social, religious and personal needs and desires. Let me break a stereotypical blockade that the desire or fashion or need can be mastered by the religious commandments but this is not necessarily true. As the fashion designer who designed this clothing told in an interview to a magazine named ‘Womens’ Wear Daily” that 40% of Burkini customers were non-Muslims including Jews, Hindus, Christians and Mormons. Secondly, it was not only the religion that has a say in the matter, there had time when the European Women were charged for wearing Bikini on the beaches. It depicts that Bikini had been an odd-fashioned outfit as Burkini these days. Therefore, socio-cultural evolution is another decisive factor.
Baseline of the far-right militant enforcement of “good morals” and forced “personal policing” of the leftist liberals, both are the illustration of anti-feminist slant over the societal behaviours. A careful observation can witness the today’s world is rolling back to the nature at many places and instances. People used to have staple organic food articles in their meals and lifestyle. Now, after consuming every kind of artificial and tin pack food items, we are again shifting on the stuffed organic food. Having all the lavish facilities back at home, one tries to spend few days out in a forest hut just to remain attached with the nature and detached with technology. Many herbal treatments for the diseases are being sought in the traditional ways particularly the skin treatments. The same way our thought dimensions are moving backwards and we are more likely to present and to implement the nascent social order, regardless of any religious, political or social thoughts.
In a patriarchal social system males members predominately hold the power in political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. Interestingly power is a virtue that doesn’t need any authentication to be known, it has its own way and society admit its presence. The point where you force others to acknowledge your power, it mean that you are fooling yourself if not anyone else. The same is the issue with growing antifeminist thinking where people forcefully try to exhibit their show of power that ends with no result having an end-less debates. Moreover, an act of police somewhere in the World is not justified to be quoted as policy issue. Point in case the routine investigative tools of Punjab Police cannot be presented as the policing policy of Punjab. Incidents happen everywhere and every now and then, few get some lime-light, courtesy to social media and other just get buried under the heaps of old newspapers. The very basic thought has no confusion; to have your own choice without interfering and damaging others’ life or property. Everyone could have their own way of living, culture, sports, eateries, wardrobes and so on and so forth. One will be liable if, he extends any destruction to the life, respect and property of others, collectively or individually.
Let us examine it with another binocular, with a more just and critical way. The mainstreaming far-right and fundamentalist wave is on high tides at this point of time. There are reasons behind this volatile situation, nothing is happening in a vacuum: France has been shaken by devastating wave of deadly terrorist atrocities. The country was collectively mourning 86 people horribly killed when a truck was deliberately driven into Nice’s Promenade des Anglais on July 14. Later that month, an 86-year-old priest was stabbed to death in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). This was not all what has happened to this country and France suffered its worst terrorist attack in November last year when more than 100 people were killed in a series of coordinated shootings and suicide bombings, including 90 killed during a siege of the Bataclan concert hall.
Now keep the series of violent terrorist attacks in your mind along with the particular beachwear in which a women take anything with her to assault people lying across the beach. Definitely it was a security concern for authorities. Here, I want you to recall the basic assumption that you are free to have your own choice without interfering or causing any damage to others collectively or individually. Wearing that particular outfit does cause a risk to many lives. Therefore, in the given situation and circumstances, the ban could be justified for a country which does not have daily human lives count down due to suicide blasts, accidents or personal enmities. The other way, they do not have efficient policing mechanism of useless barriers across the roads causing mental and financial torcher to the common man without causing any harm to those terrorists and suicide bombers who take the innocent lives daily in our country, Pakistan. However, banning can be announced in a better way with a justification.
We never used the tool of social media to criticise or to discuss the acts of our policemen standing at the barracks with a piercing torch light in their hands, which they use over every second passing-by cars. This act is also a count on breach of privacy and right to have your own choice without causing any harm to others, but we don’t discuss it because we are going through a situation where we have surrendered few of our liberties for sake of our collective good or we only love to discuss everything under the sun that is not our concern in any way. I think we need to stretch our thoughts beyond our social, cultural and religious biases and we may try to figure out rationale instead of mere criticism.
The Writer is associated with an International Developmental Organization and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org