The tricky politics of the burkini backlash

And what it says about the West's excesses of secularism

In some way, most conform to the fashions of society.
(Image credit: FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

The images of French police accosting a Muslim woman for dressing too modestly on the beach seem like they're from a different era. These can't be the times we're living in.

But here we are. The laws of some French beach towns frown specifically on a particular form of Islamic modesty, the burkini. French politicians have criticized the burkini in two key ways. The far-right Marine Le Pen finds a way of wrapping the liberated culture of France in conservative language when she says that France should retain the character of the beaches of Bardot. But the more common argument employs left-wing rhetoric. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, "The burkini is not a new swimsuit fashion trend. It's the translation of a political project for a counter-society based on woman's enslavement."

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