Society

Liberté, égalité, fraternité pour qui?

In recent weeks, a series of French municipal decrees de facto banning “burkinis” and, apparently, any other skin concealing beach outfits worn by Muslim women were made in about 30 French towns. Women have received fines and armed French police have ordered some women to remove their clothing, as seen on a beach in Nice:

burkini_beach

This treatment of Muslim women in France has put a lot of doubt into my mind of whether the motto of “liberty, equality, fraternity” (liberté, égalité, fraternité) still applies to all French residents. Liberty involves the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled. Equality means all people within a society have the same status in respect to civil rights, freedom of speech, and equal access to social goods and services. Fraternity, although highly patriarchal and better represented as solidarity, is a kind of ethical relationship between people, which is based on compassion. The ban on burkinis, or any other style of dress associated with an identifiable group, runs counter to all three of these principles. Continue reading

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