The Burkini. You’d think it was a joke invention: a bit like the grotesque “Mankini” so hilariously sported by Sacha Baron Cohen on all those posters for Borat. What, after all, could be more absurd than melding the not-notably-sexy Muslim dress – the Burka – with the kind of achingly seductive kit worn by Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman?
But no, the Burkini is for real. It was designed by an Lebanese Australian Aheda Zanetti to enable women in thrall to extreme Saudi-style dress codes to go swimming on beaches and in public baths without incurring a beating or instant divorce from their characteristically tolerant and cosmopolitan menfolk.
“Practical and stylish,” is how they’re described on a BBC website. Hmm, up to a point. Practical if your primary goal is to protect yourself from box jellyfish stings; stylish, maybe, if your points of comparison are a gorilla outfit, or a Barbara Cartland pink dress, or a tent. But I do think we should be wary of viewing the burkini in terms of a fashion story or an amusing novelty, when it also represents something more sinister. I’m sure the designer didn’t intend this, but the Burkini has become yet another weapon in the Islamist assault on Western cultural values.
When most of us think of militant Islam, we tend to think in terms of suicide bombs on London buses, planes flying into Twin Towers and 19-year olds getting their limbs blown off by Taliban IEDs. But as any extremist Imam could tell you, there are at least two ways in which a good Muslim can further the ongoing struggle to convert the whole world from the House of War (that’s the non-Muslim world) to the House of Islam (ie global submission to the will of Allah): one (see above) is by poison or the sword; the other is by honey.
So the Burkini is part of the honey campaign: all those parts of the Islamist war on the West that have nothing to do with killing people. This campaign includes everything from schoolgirls fighting legal battles (with the help of one Cherie Blair) to fight for their inalienable right to go to school dressed like a sack, to Muslim supermarket workers trying to dictate the terms of their employment (refusing to sell alcohol), to the ongoing campaign (apparently endorsed by our own Archbishop of Canterbury) for certain civil decisions in the Muslim “community” to be made under Sharia law. The goal is to establish the view that Islam is a religion should be allowed to trump everything, including the cultural norms of any non-Muslim society in which its adherents find themselves living.
Why should we care if women want to dress up in burkinis? Well we shouldn’t. It’s a free country. Where we should worry very much is when, in the name of weasel concepts like “tolerance”, “respect” and Multiculturalism, the wider society is bullied into adopting similar “Muslim” (ie Saudi-style, Wahhabist) dress codes too.
The Sunday Telegraph has provided three examples of this dangerous trend:
Croydon council in south London runs separate one-and-a half-hour swimming sessions for Muslim men and women every Saturday and Sunday at Thornton Heath Leisure Centre.
Swimmers were told last week on the centre’s website that “during special Muslim sessions male costumes must cover the body from the navel to the knee and females must be covered from the neck to the ankles and wrists”
There are similar rules at Scunthorpe Leisure Centre, in North Lincolnshire, where “users must follow the required dress code for this session (T-shirts and shorts/leggings that cover below the knee)”.
In Glasgow, a men-only swimming session is organised by a local mosque group at North Woodside Leisure Centre, at which swimmers must be covered from navel to knee.
This is outrageous. A public swimming pool is not a mosque. It is a secular, leisure facility designed for (and funded by) the local community. If parts of that community feel unable to use those facilities for religious or cultural reasons, well that should be their problem and no one else’s. I dare say naturists object to the trunks/bathing costume dress code operated by local public baths, too. But I don’t think any of us would think that constitutes an argument for introducing special “Nudie” hours at local swimming pools, fun though that might be.
As I remember from my days living in East London (at the much lamented Haggerston Leisure Centre), it’s quite maddening when, after a hard week’s work, you suddenly find you can’t go for a Saturday evening swim because the pool has been set aside for the purposes of religious apartheid.
But apart from being annoying, it’s an absolute disaster for social cohesion. The reason for home-grown Muslim suicide bombers is that British Muslims are constantly encouraged to think of themselves as being different and apart from mainstream British society. Heaven knows it’s a message they hear often enough from their Imams. Is it really something they should be hearing from their local councils and swimming baths as well?