Banning the Burkini

In the past week, French beaches have taken steps to ban the burkini—a full-body swimsuit invented by an Australian Muslim woman who wanted to make it easier for her devout female coreligionists to bathe publicly. Supporters of the ban—including both right-wing politicians and the socialist prime minister Manuel Valls—claim that it is a wise response to the wave of terrorist attacks in their country. Nervana Mahmoud, who was not allowed by her family to swim in her native Egypt, disagrees, with reservations:

As a liberal woman, I have no problem with the burkini because I believe in freedom of choice, but as a Muslim woman, I find the burkini problematic for two reasons.

First, it symbolizes a perception that women who cover up within the Muslim world are superior to those who do not. . . . Second, many Islamists advocate total segregation [of the sexes], and are not content with the burkini. One might presume that once Muslim women agree to cover up fully, the [conservatives] will finally leave them alone. But the opposite is true. The more women give in and cover up, the higher [extremists] will raise the stakes. . . .

It may surprise many, but the harassment of women on public beaches, which is prevalent in Muslim countries, is almost negligible in Western countries, despite the revealing swimming costumes many women wear. Even in Egypt, the harassment of non-burkini- wearing women is much less [common] in upmarket beach resorts. . . .

The debate on the ban of the burkini in France is yet another example that the troubles of the Middle East do not remain in the Middle East.

Read more at Nervana

More about: European Islam, France, Islam, Islamism, Liberalism, Modesty, Religion & Holidays


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security