The Right Not To Wear A Burkini


TUNISIA-ISLAM-LEISURE

Tunisian women, one (R) wearing a “burkini”, a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women. Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

The ban on the Islamic burkini, or full-body swimsuit, on the beaches of the French Riviera has triggered heated debates and controversies. For some, it is a ban on freedom of choice; for others, the ban is a symbol of Islamist extremism. For me, however, it triggers painful memories of another struggle by women in the Muslim world who were stripped of the right to make their own choice on the matter.

“Maybe it is not a good idea to swim on a public beach,” one of my mother’s friends once told me with a stern look on his face. He then added, “You would be harassed in such a conservative culture as ours.” I was only 11 at the time and was struggling to swim. To be honest, I was just trying to enjoy the sea and the water. Still, many Egyptians believe swimming is an activity that could trigger unwanted attention, even at that tender age.

In a country like Egypt, swimming is a luxury, especially for girls; only those who can afford to pay the membership fees of posh sports clubs have access to swimming pools. Yes, Egypt is blessed with many public beaches, but like all public spaces, they have become havens for men harassing women by gazing, staring, and even groping them. Consequently, despite the fact that Egypt has some well-known female swimmers such as Farida Osman, many girls miss the opportunity to engage in the wonderful sport of swimming during childhood. I was one of those unfortunate girls. My mother could not afford the sport club’s fee. I missed out on swimming until I eventually took swimming classes as an adult in England. I had to put up with disdainful looks as I clumsily tried to float in the water among children aged four and five, until I eventually learned to swim.

The evolution of swimming costumes in Muslim societies has been linked to two main factors: the rise of political Islam and the urbanization of Muslim societies. Up until the Seventies in Egypt, female swimming costumes were widely accepted on public beaches without any harassment. That was due mainly to the predominance of the relatively liberal, middle-class elite in urban areas.

That changed during the Eighties. Reverse engineering of cultural attitudes started with the rise of Islamism and the emergence of a neo-middle class, mostly conservative Muslims, many of whom were expats working in ultra-conservative Gulf States. This new culture embodied a strict new doctrine, which held that a woman’s body was a source of Islamist identity. As this new doctrine gained in popularity, social pressure mounted, forcing women to cover their bodies to maintain their “honor.” Any uncovered woman was deemed loose, decadent, and attention seeking. Such religious bullying forced many Muslim women to avoid swimming altogether, unless they had the means to join wealthy sport clubs or own a villa in exclusive compounds at posh sea resorts. As a result, the ghettoization of the Egyptian social scene became the new norm.

Gradually, the Islamic dress code permeated the entire Arab and Muslim world, including Muslim communities in many Western countries. The introduction of the burkini in the early 2000s by a Muslim woman in Australia was a creative move to adapt to beach-style life in Australia. Subsequently, the popularity of the burkini gained ground among many neo-middle class conservative Muslims who wanted to reconcile their religious beliefs with their posh life style.

So what is wrong with the burkini?

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: When concealing flesh is considered to be the morally correct interpretation of God’s order, it automatically places the covered woman in a higher moral league. Less covered women have no option but to put up with a lower-league status or cover their bodies. Even non-hijabi women are expected to refrain from showing more flesh by wearing a swimming costume that conforms with commonly accepted customs. God forbid if a Muslim woman opted to wear a bikini. That alone would label her simply as a whore.

Second, many Islamists advocate total segregation, and are not content with the burkini. One might presume that once Muslim women agree to cover up fully, the pro-regressionists will finally leave them alone. But the opposite is true. The more women give in and cover up, the more the advocates of regression will raise the stakes higher. Many scholars advocate a dress code that does not stick to the body or reveal a silhouette of its shape. For them, the burkini is problematic, as they prefer total segregation between men and women on beaches. Completely segregated Islamist beach resorts are common in Iran, and have started to appear in Turkey and other Muslim countries.

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 in upmarket beach resorts. This phenomenon destroys the main pillar of the Islamist argument that covering up protects women. In fact, the obsession with covering the flesh only triggers more misogyny and paranoia. In a strict, regressive environment, when the flesh is covered, desperate men will focus on a women’s looks, the way she moves, and her body language.

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. Yes, the design of the burkini originated in Australia, but the ideology behind it is purely Middle Eastern. The burkini sums up some Muslim women’s struggle to please themselves, their societies, and their perceptions of Islam.

Burkini-wearing women and their supporters, however, cannot confront Islamophobia without addressing the hypocrisy in their native countries. If the advocates of the burkini are really genuine in their call for freedom of choice, they should confront the emotional bullying that links women’s bodies with honor. All people, including non-burkini Muslim women, should have freedom of choice. Muslim women who opt to wear ordinary swimming costumes only want to enjoy the simple pleasure of feeling the sea waves caressing their skin and touching their hair, without external judgment of their morals or religious beliefs. Once the concept of equality and diversity is accepted in Muslim countries, it will empower Muslims to defend the burkini in Western countries. Let’s be frank: prejudice in this context originated within the Muslim communities, and will never be solved until Muslims truly embrace freedom for all, and not just for burkini-wearing women.

About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues
This entry was posted in Best Read, Egypt, Islam and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

126 Responses to The Right Not To Wear A Burkini

  1. Great article. Apart from the ‘As a liberal woman, I have no problem with the burkini because I believe in freedom of choice’ NONSENSE! Does that mean that as a liberal woman you would have no problem with Nazi swastikas widely being used by its supporters. I am sorry. Islam is a dangerous TOTALITARIAN ideology, not just for women but for all freedom loving people. It’s symbols must be banned everywhere in non-Muslim countries, whether its the kneeling in public, the burqa, the burkini or the zuchini. We have had enough of 7th century.

    • nervana111 says:

      Many thanks for your comment. I think comparing Burkini with Nazi swastika is apple and orange. Some women are not blessed with great bodies. Let’s assume they are morbidly obese and with huge cellulites, and prefer to cover-up. Even if they prefer to cover on religious basis like ultra orthodox Jews, why deny them the right to cover. It would be hugely unfair. Please try to think outside the politics and focus instead on the woman brain 🙂

      • You are assuming islam is a religion. It is not. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with a totalitarian ideology. That is why millions of women feel they are obliged to obey its commands. Because it they don’t they will suffer in one way or another. Stop wearing the liberal burqa to make excuses for totalitariansim. You are fueling the very monster you are supposedly fighting against.

        Ps. Trust me, women (and men) know better than to feel embarrassed about their bodies. You see all kinds of shapes, weights and heights on beaches. It’s the normal thing to do. It’s abnormal to say that some god says women must be dressed one way or another or to defend such practise in the name of liberalism. The latter is the worst form of slavery.

      • nervana111 says:

        You are entitled to your views, but you still failed to address my comment on obese women. Plus, here is a fact for you, there are one billion Muslim on this planet, and short of wiping out the entire earth, you cannot get rid of all of them. Consider it a religion or not is frankly pointless, what is important is to counter their victimhood with logic.

      • Amanda says:

        I don’t think anyone is really “blessed” with a great body. Most women – or people in general – who have what society deems as “great bodies” worked for them – they weren’t just handed to them. Also, not all obese women prefer to cover up.

      • nervana111 says:

        I think you are taking a comment out of context!!!

      • There was no option to reply to your last comment. I hate to think that you blocked the reply on purpose, because that ain’t what liberal persons do.

        Anyhow, the issue is not to wipe out either islam or Muslims. They can do whatever the hell they please in their countries. Hell, they already do. How free are we when we go to their countries?

        The issue is to completely ban a totalitarian ideology from western societies. And when I say ban, I mean a complete ban. Islam is a nasty, vile ideology that leaves no room for freedom (for women, for non-Muslims, for bad Muslims) and as such we have a responsibility to eradicate it from our societies exactly like we would of any nazist/totalitarian ideology. If you as a liberal feel otherwise, I am sorry but you are either too weak or simply fooling yourself.

        Would you, “as a liberal woman, {who] believes in freedom of choice” (your words) accept me naked on the beach next to you and the burkini babes? How liberal are you really? I would really like to hear your liberal answer.

      • nervana111 says:

        I did not block anything. There is no need to attack me to prove your views.

      • Simon says:

        Your defense of the burkini is quite weak. Wearing it won’t cover anyone’s obesity and it definitely won’t prevent people from looking at you, frankly on a beach where most women don’t wear it, it will cause way more unwanted attention than the things you described, since people around you, will look at you. This is a completely normal human reaction to unusual things in their environment. I would also get the same reactions on the street if I colored my hair green, had several piercings and tattoos. Not because people are rude to me, but because I would stick out like a sore thumb. Such reactions will never change.

      • nervana111 says:

        Correction: I do not defend Burkini, I only state that some women may prefer it for reasons irrelevant to religion.

      • lizor says:

        “Some women are not blessed with great bodies. Let’s assume they are morbidly obese and with huge cellulites, and prefer to cover-up.”

        You mean the way men with not-great bodies cover them up?

        I get that women, who are socialized to believe their worth is found in their value as sexual objects will feel discomfort displaying so-called “imperfect” bodies, but ultimately there is no reason for them to cover up in the context of a summer beach. To defend it is to defend a double standard.

      • nervana111 says:

        I defend the right of anyone men or women to cover what they want to cover in their bodies anywhere they like.

    • Tom says:

      What a baby. ‘Islam is a dangerous TOTALITARIAN ideology’.

      No, dear. It’s a complex and contested tradition of belief and behaviour, which has many different strands. Ultimately, I think they are all wrong, since I’m a card carrying atheist. But genuine liberalism means genuine pluralism, and that – unless ‘freedom of speech and behaviour’ is a mere slogan – means tolerating things you don’t like. If women genuinely want to wear burkinis, as opposed to being forced to wear them, then so be it. Banning them and threatening the sanctions of the criminal law to make yourself feel better is the genuinely totalitarian phenomenon here. Now find your caps lock, learn than Islam is not the same as Nazism, and grow up a bit.

      • We agree as a matter of fact. islam is not nazism. It is far worse. It is nazism in the name of the divine, which makes it far far more dangerous. If you like it so much, go live in a Muslim country. But islam has absolutely NO place in any western society. Those that allowed it to grow and just beginning to realize the mistake they made. We’ll see quite a bit of reversal policies in the years to come.

    • I am a Woman. I am not liberal nor am I conservative…I do not put myself in any “box” or category…I noticed that the above comment does not say “fanatic Islam” is dangerous…it just says Islam. I am a Christian and Catholic woman….all religions have at one time or another advocated violence against humanity and especially women…..Let us not forget our Protestant Witch Burning Frenzy…..I just feel that when in Rome do as the Roman’s…I feel to be culturally sensitive to the feelings of others is just a sign of intelligence and empathy…ie. I am from very very strong Southern Irish Grandparents….I do not walk around London in a Bobby Sands T-Shirt….just because you CAN do certain things by no means should we feel compelled to do them.

      • Christ never advocated violence. Muhammad not only did. He practised it (among other despicable acts). The perfect Christian is quite different than then perfect Muslim. And unfortunately religious people will always strive to be perfect. Because Allahu akbar.

      • Sophie Jones says:

        In response to the comment from Kyriacos Kyriakides about Christ not advocating violence that may be true but the Bible advocates violence over and over again. From horrific stories of ethnic cleansing to stoning to death for trivial misdemeanours the Bible is no different from the Q’ran when it comes to bloodlust.

      • ZKRC says:

        Kyriacos, Christ may never have advocated violence but God does on many occasions. Not only does he advocate violence, but also slavery, genital mutilation, rape and ethnic cleansing. All religion is totalitarian, especially Christianity. Pointing out that Islam specifically is totalitarian makes me wonder if you understand the meaning of the word. All religion is totalitarian, demanding complete subservience.

      • In response to Sophie Jones:

        Christian ethos is based on the New testament mainly. Christ never hurt anyone. He preached love and brotherhood. He demanded nonone to follow him. His message was as pure as message can be. How Muhammad, a person that killed, had others killed, married a nine year old and preached hatred and racism against non-Muslims, became a prophet and is considered by millions as the perfect man beats the hell out of me. Unless the god he represents is the Devil. Then it all makes sense.

        Aside from the 10 commandments (Old Testament or Jewish Bible) Christians borrow very little from the Old Testament, and in any case certainly not any passages that describe violence as a means to achieve one’s goal. Suggesting that the Bible, Old or New, is not different than the Quran shows gross ignorance or gross desire to deceive.

      • To Susan Conolly. You are mistaken to consider islam as a religion. It is an ideology, with prescriptions about how everyone must behave. Furthermore, give me one sentence in the New Testament that incites, promotes or justifies violence. Christ spoke of love and brotherhood for all. Then came Muhammad. He preached in part some good things. He borrowed everything Judaism and Christianity said. And added that it only applies to Muslims. He then by his example killed those that objected to his message. He married a nine year old. He preached racism and misogyny. How the hell he is a perfect man beat the hell out of me. If Allah is a god, then he is the devil. Trying to equate the New Testament to the Quran, or Christ to Muhammad, demonstrates gross ignorance.

      • PV says:

        I love how Kyriacos brings up more religion in an attempt to out-faith thinking people. Are you some Pavlovian dog, presenting a church-conditioned response to the dinner bell of Islam? What if, when you die, it’s Allah you meet? Boom. Life wasted. Or what if its Vishnu? Boom. Life wasted. None of it matters anyway. Nothing is provable. Nothing. We only recognize stimulus and reaction. Every day, scientific “proofs” are disproven, every day, old truths die and new ones are born. We won’t know if the Muslim misogyny and patriarchy is right or wrong until we die. So, for once in your life, live and let live. Let them do as they will. Just a man should have no right to pass legislature controlling women’s bodies, a cookie-cutter Christian like your has no business dictating the way of life for Muslims, no matter where you or they reside. Also, seriously, an American or British citizen has the right to live and worship as they choose, as the “Western world” has clearly stated many times. By supporting a ban on freedom of religious expression is to mark yourself as a Nazi-esque totalitarian. If you had your way, it would be ban after ban after ban. Where would it end? A world where all religious texts aside from the Biblical New Testament are contraband? Sounds to me that you represent the real danger: vicious intolerance.

      • PV says:

        It also bothers me that you seem to think you can cut up the Bible and follow only the parts you like. God hates that, if I remember correctly. In fact, its borderline blasphemy.

      • PV says:

        Also, the “Jewish Bible” has a name. It’s called the Torah.

      • PV says:

        Oh, great article, by the way. Very well said, though we differ on some matters. Sorry about the typos, too. I’m using a virtual keyboard, and it is fussy, to say the least.

  2. If women went bare-breasted but scrupulously covered their thumbs or ankles, men would be fantasizing about those thumbs or ankles. The concealment strategy, as the article states, has unintended consequences.

  3. This is a great article, very informative. I’ve often wondered about the “greater liberalism in Arab countries in the 60/70s” story though; is the rise of religious conservatism primarily a result of the mid century “Islamic awakening”, Saudi support for reactionary elements etc ? Or was it just that the greater liberalism of the 50,60 70s represented elite preferences, and once the preferences of the masses became more politically salient it was inevitable there would be a conservative turn ?

    • nervana111 says:

      Many thanks Ronan for such a great question. I will try to answer in another piece as there is no short way to explain. Will copy you once I published it. thanks

      • Zendette says:

        Great article. I’ve seen non Muslim women wear outfits similar to the Burkini due to obesity and cellulite. It’s unfair to remove choice for these women, yet I also understand how a Burkini is used to control women. Israel also has segregated beaches for orthodox Jewish women, but they are limited to small areas.
        Looking forward to your piece addressing Ronan’s question!

      • Waseem says:

        please copy me too.

      • shueyb says:

        Please copy me too when you write that piece.

      • Gzodik says:

        Me also. Thanks for your intelligent pieces!

  4. Yasin Aware says:

    Nervana. I am merican muslim and what i love about usa is its constituation.let me tell u story. Last ramadan, i met these young bright french muslims and i learn that they didnt think they were french. They told me they cant. go to some clubs.they want to move to usa. The sadest Part is that they cant Find jobs.these young french were third generation french..its bigger that burkini.my neice is first generation american and she is proud american.

  5. Irma Wardenier says:

    thank you

  6. Pingback: The Right Not 2 Wear A Burkini by Dr Nervana Mahmoud | Mark Geoffrey Kirshner

  7. Ryan says:

    “They just ‘like being in the sun.’ It would be hard to exaggerate the significance of this custom in our day. For the first time in two thousand years the body has been shown naked on the beaches. For twenty centuries, men have strived to impose decency on the insolence of the Greeks, to diminish the flesh and elaborate our dress.” -Camus, Summer in Algiers

    This was a brilliant article. It’s a shame that the current conversation isn’t dominated by your style of nuance, and it’s being left to the absurd extremes. Keep up the good work!

    • Lliam says:

      Well said Ryan.

      Truly excellent article Nervana. Thank you.

      My heart broke for that woman on the beach. No matter how hard it may be being professed as protecting secularism, it is quite clearly a strong departure from the spirit of secularism and indeed the reason for it’s success. As a humanist and liberal, I feel I simply have to reject what is happening.

      Yet my heart has also broken over the years reading stories by Muslim women who have been forced to cover or risk losing anything ranging from familial approval to their very lives, and more tragically of those they knew who did lose their lives.

      This has made it very hard for me to understand A) why so many women choose to cover, and B) feel empathetic of their choice, despite my firm liberal convictions. Largely because I could never get past the notion that in a secular, pluralistic society, while I may choose to wear say a baseball cap, and even given I truly and deeply loved said baseball cap, if there was a also a well known phenomena of people in other countries being forced to wear baseball caps or suffer anything ranging from mere disapproving gazes to total ostracization, beatings or death. On those grounds, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear a baseball cap under any circumstances.

      Given the Niqaab or Burqa is not religiously commanded, and the enforcement of covering has become the hallmark of all the major islamic extremist organisations, choosing to cover has felt like a morally confused and disturbing expression of freedom of expression.

      The points you make regarding covering being an act to claim a moral high ground / public demonstration of greater piety that affords greater status – was well illustrated and goes a long way to explaining it’s prevalence and the growth that I have wondered at. Thank you. But I still think in this instance, that this is a very poor way to “fight extremism” or “protect secularism.

      I live in Australia, and the news here today says the inventor of the Burkini is now experiencing a huge boost in sales. It concerns me that France will only be serving to make the act of covering, even more synonymous with being the symbol of a “true” muslim woman in modern society. Oh the irony.

      Furthermore, the inventor says the Burkini is about “freedom happiness and beach culture.” So I tend to think Charlie Hebdo’s approach of satire and ridicule is a weapon far better suited to defending French secularism from burkinis than armed police, and would have been a much wiser tactic. Unless of course you are the cartoonist… Sad state of affairs indeed.

      Again thanks for your honest, clarity and nuance on this issue Nervana.

  8. quinndiesel says:

    “They just ‘like being in the sun.’ It would be hard to exaggerate the significance of this custom in our day. For the first time in two thousand years the body has been shown naked on the beaches. For twenty centuries, men have strived to impose decency on the insolence of the Greeks, to diminish the flesh and elaborate our dress.” Albert Camus, Summer in Algiers.

    This is a brilliant article. It’s a shame that the current conversation is dominated by the extremes of either side. I did a little experiment after reading your article and did a google image search for “nuns at the beach.” I liked your analogy to obese women, but you don’t see anyone attacking nuns and their habits the same way.

  9. kate says:

    great article, and gives me food for thought. i initially thought this was fine, but i see what you mean about making a bad situation worse. personally, i wear a rash guard type suit, with longer shorts, because i am trying to protect my skin, not because i am trying to keep covered up. i think that it is the behavior of the men that needs change, not the costume of the women. they should wear what is comfortable for them, not feel obligated to cover.

  10. Pingback: To Burkini Or Not Burkini | The Spinning Blue Marble

  11. sumair says:

    Good points, but why would a burkini women even swim with bikini clad women since their moral is so high to even get along and be surrounded by hoardes of nudity in the ocean of sin, its also a moral obligation not be in sight of obscenity if we take that in religious context, second the reason for covering doesn’t convince me since as much, this was ordained for society which are regressive and have different cultural attitude opposed to liberal civilisation where woman have some freedom and self respect and mostly not in fear of repercussion or pressure. third the consequence for allowing this will mean it will multiply and contribute to regressiveness and seclusion on beaches to extent they will become ghettoised that wont welcome any outsider in their realm of morality, its natural that one burkini will attract more muslim woman in numbers rushing in likeness and interest as a community, their common belief is shared but this is dangerous for western society as a whole not without a consequences.

  12. Sue says:

    I very much enjoyed reading your article. No one should be forced into wearing anything, it should be their own choice.

  13. Sandy Armitage says:

    Hello Nervana, I read your article with interest and responded to it – rather too quickly, perhaps – via Anne-Elizabeth Moutet’s facebook page but, ironically, she decided to block me. She banned me.
    I respect your experience as a Muslim woman and the complexities of the symbolism of the burkini, etc. but I wasn’t clear about your position on the ban. Do you think it will help?

  14. Rich Seth says:

    The most powerful argument is quite a simple one, you cannot swim in a burkini! Swimsuits evolved in direct response to scientific advancements which conclude that loose, bulky clothing creates drag and restricts full movement. Young girls in countries/cultures that demand this “covering up” can never learn to swim properly, and probably many do not learn how to swim at all.

  15. This article is incredibly moving, though I think it forgets the small issue that even you brought up as the author.

    The pressure from the men at home.

    It’s true that while these women in France, and other western nations, may not have the same issues at a public beach that you would have in Egypt, they would face issues in a conservative home from their fathers, brothers, cousins, grandfathers, etc. This would start from birth, and last their whole lives, as you well know.

    The burkini would be, in essence, their only way to go out and go swimming, as the family would probably feel dressing in any other way may shame them. And now, without this option, they have no way to go out and go swimming. They are in a way, banned from going to the beach, and we have young girls facing the same issue for an entirely new reason.

    It’s easy to think of this as a stepping stone for liberating women from this, but banning them outright may only hurt the ones that are unable to speak out because they don’t know how. Sure there are women that are strong enough to say they want to wear them because they want to adhere to their religious texts, and there are women strong enough to say they’ve been forced to wear them and are happy for the ban. But there are many more in between that are just trying to live their lives and this little bit of luxury, swimming, has now been taken away. There is no way the men in their lives will allow them to go any longer.

  16. Pedro says:

    Great article. The situation of Islamic women is really awful at this piont of the century. Unfortunately, people (and mainly women) in Western society are also not free from predudices due the submission of the image, which is another form of domination promoted by the advertising world

  17. nedhamson says:

    Reblogged this on Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News and commented:
    Excellent explanation of the double-bind that Muslim women find themselves in. Stop the silly Islamophobia and let women choose what they want to wear and work for their own freedom of choice within their community.

  18. Brian says:

    Great post.

  19. Maha says:

    This is an excellent article and sums up a lot of my own thoughts and feelings. I find the extreme covering up of women in many Muslim countries causes more objectification of women sexually and thus more obsession with sex (leading to widespread pornography addiction and sexual abuse/crimes). Also the non or part time hijabi women are looked upon disdainfully by the full hijabi women where it’s more important how you look rather than what’s in your heart and soul. I am in favour of dressing modestly (for women AND men), but I don’t judge those who do not.

  20. J Abikhalil says:

    how can we explain that before the eighties all these Women, In Egypt / Pakistan / Iran / Syria had a Bikini. It is a huge debate of the Women Freedom, what is happening toda, can you allow her to go to the beach, can she rides a Bike, can she ….. being a human as well as Men

  21. Maha says:

    This is an excellent article and sums up a lot of my own thoughts and feelings. I find the extreme covering up of women in many Muslim countries causes more objectification of women sexually and thus more obsession with sex (leading to widespread pornography addiction and sexual abuse/crimes). Also the non or part time hijabi women are looked upon disdainfully by the full hijabi women where it’s more important how you look rather than what’s in your heart and soul. I am in favour of dressing modestly (for women AND men) but I don’t condemn those who don’t.

  22. wahid says:

    Excellent read! First article I read which really captures in an honest, authentic and well informed way the gist of the issue! Well done!

  23. wahidsharaf says:

    Excellent read! First article I read which really captures in an honest, authentic and well informed way the gist of the issue! Well done!

  24. tiagolemospeixoto says:

    Good insightful article. I ultimately am against the ban of the burkini not only as a matter of principle and freedom of choice; it just seems contradictory to me to impose freedom by curtailing choice. On a more pragmatic level, I also think that this solution brings some short term quality of life; by my reckoning, a woman who can’t use the burkini will not be able to go to the beach at all, and as such, I wonder if by prohibiting the burkini, the end result won’t limit the freedom of movement of muslim women who, by choice or by imposition, adhere to this dress code.

    All of this is separate from my own thoughts on the Burkini and the Burka itself. I have no doubt in my mind that they’re symbols of oppression against women that should be opposed ideologically. Which is perhaps a contradiction, being for the the usage of something which stands against what I believe in each and every way. But I have it easy with that contradiction. I am an european atheist man, after all, I can be as philosphical as I want towards something that does not impact me.

    Which is why the voice of women educated in Islam, expressed freely, are the ones that should lead the discussion, and even debate and disagree among themselves. Those are the voices that should be heard above all others and those who claim the ideals of progress will do best to ensure they’re heard. As much as I have my own strong, conflicted viewpoints on the matter, the final word should go to the muslim women and I empower that word the most the more I let it be heard. Sadly I feel that all across the aisle, the voices least heard are from the ones most impacted. It’s not without some irony that the very first comment on this issue comes from a non muslim man who tries vehemently to tell you what your religion is.

    So, thanks for your perspective. Your opinion is invaluable to this outsider. And I do hope more speak up and have the final say on something that affects you mostly and foremost.

      • jumbru77 says:

        Thank you for a very clear exposition of all the complexities of this clash of cultures. I agree with the posts saying it’s the men’s attitudes which have to change, but in the meantime I don’t get what is so wrong with segregated beaches? There women could be uncovered, learn to swim, get some sunshine etc. and find out what they’re missing. I was in India last year travelling cheap, in ‘women only’ coaches I had the greatest fun, the most laughs, felt totally safe. It was my free choice and it was great. The women’s pond in Hampstead is good another example.
        Maybe this has come up before, if so excuse me I’m only just joining in.

  25. MAltman says:

    I agree that what Muslim women wear to the beach should be left to the individual and the the extent there is pressure to dress a certain way from within that person;s religious group — the problem needs to be taken care of internally — within that community. A modern western nation should not be legislating how people dress absent security issues directly related to the dress.

  26. Adam says:

    “First, it symbolizes a perception that women who cover up within the Muslim world are superior to those who do not: When concealing flesh is considered to be the morally correct interpretation of God’s order, it automatically places the covered woman in a higher moral league. Less covered women have no option but to put up with a lower-league status or cover their bodies. Even non-hijabi women are expected to refrain from showing more flesh by wearing a swimming costume that conforms with commonly accepted customs. God forbid if a Muslim woman opted to wear a bikini. That alone would label her simply as a whore.”

    I agree that burqini, niqab, hijab, loose Islamic clothing all sexualize women. However, if you are okay with concept of religious liberty, you should be okay with religiously mandated sexualization of women. In the Anglo-American tradition, religious liberty > regressive religious practices. Now the government can step in to restrict religious liberty where there is actual harm to citizens like in circumcision (just kidding – chop it off!) but the burqini doesn’t quite rise to that level.

    “Second, many Islamists advocate total segregation, and are not content with the burkini. One might presume that once Muslim women agree to cover up fully, the pro-regressionists will finally leave them alone. But the opposite is true. The more women give in and cover up, the more the advocates of regression will raise the stakes higher. Many scholars advocate a dress code that does not stick to the body or reveal a silhouette of its shape. For them, the burkini is problematic, as they prefer total segregation between men and women on beaches. Completely segregated Islamist beach resorts are common in Iran, and have started to appear in Turkey and other Muslim countries.”

    Agree with all your points here. However, this is more an argument for banning Burquini in MENA than in the West. Not enough Muslims in the West to force the bikini clad to wear Burqinis. This is actually a good argument for controlling Muslim immigration to the West. In small doses, Muslim immigration is fine. In large doses – it will lead problems you have spelled out here.

  27. Essam Geha says:

    Would the burkini be allowed in the swimming pools as well ??

  28. Perrey says:

    Equality for men and women! Men should learn to behave.

  29. Sofia Turkan says:

    I’m sorry for the issues you face as a woman who does not wear the hijab, but the notion that I am somehow to blame (as a hijab wearer) is ridiculous. Firstly, I don’t consider myself “better” than anyone. If you think that me wearing a hijab means that I think I’m superior, then that’s a personal insecurity that you need to address. I do it simply because my interpretation (which is the same interpretation of the vast majority of Sunnis and Shi’ites) of Islam is that it’s a required component much like prayer or fasting. I don’t see myself as being more “pure” than someone who does not wear one. The fact that there are people who think that is unfortunate, but not an indication that all (or even most) women believe that.

    The inherent problem is the illiberal nature of Egyptian (and more broadly speaking, Arab) society which sees a major desire for conformity. Either you are pressured to take the hijab off or keep the hijab on. Neither side is willing to de-politicize the issue and recognize that women, when provided free will, choose to do things we (as secularists or religious folk) might not like.

    • nervana111 says:

      Thank you for your comment, and for describing my views as ridiculous and label me as “insecure.”
      First, no one blamed “you”, the religious elite who link hijab with honour are the one to blame; not you or any hijabi woman.
      Second, neither you or I is the arbiter of superiority, but it is ingrained in the collective psyche of current Muslim societies by religious preachers who advocate Hijab relentlessly.
      Third, it may surprise you, but religious institutions in Egypt and other Muslim countries did not aggressively promote Hijab before the seventies. In fact, many prominent Al-Azhar Imams were photographed with their non-hijabi wives during the early decades of the 20th centuries.Only after the Iranian revolution and the rise of Saudi metro-dollars that hijab was aggressively advocated.
      Fourth, there are many Islamic scholars who believe that Hijab is not a must including, surprise, surprise, Brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan El-Banna, his name is Gamal Banna https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamal_al-Banna And many others, but there views were silenced, often by murdering them, like what happened to Farag Fouda in Egypt.
      Fifth, without delving into theology __and I know the Quran by heart __the advocate of Hijab rely on interpretations of two verses of Quran, without considering their historical context and then the same bunch decry radical groups as ISIS for the “literalistic interpretation” of Quran. How ironic.
      Finally, I confronted many scholar with one question: what is the punishment of non-hijab women? they had to answer, simply because there is NO earthy punishment mentioned, neither in Quran, nor in Hadiths. Funny how they say it is obligatory, but without punishment. What a joke!
      It take a gut and extreme security in one’s own convictions to stand against the pro-Hijab. I am a proud liberal Muslim and will continue to stand for what I believe is a more tolerant inclusive Islam. I have no issue with Hijabi women, but I despise their attitude towards me, if they do not claim to be superior, they label me as insecure and ridiculous just as you did!

      • shueyb says:

        Good reply, Nervana. Would you please share your take on the two Quranic verses cited by advocates of hijab out of their historic context? Couldn’t agree more with your point on people criticizing ISIS on literal interpretation of scriptures doing the same thing in other situations.
        Regarding your discussions about punishment for non-hijabis with scholars, I wonder if they ever mentioned to you that in Shariah some of the punishments are left to the discretion of the authority of the time to prescribe. I am not an advocate of Shariah punishments but just mentioning this point as it can be a typical response to such questions. Of course one may argue that if it was such a big offence, the punishment would have been prescribed by Quran or Hadith.

      • ceciliawyu says:

        I am glad you wrote for you did as it is important for women to continue understanding one another’s culture and not make presumptive judgements.

        In an ideal world women can wear whatever we want on the beach or anywhere without ANY Male authorities telling us what to wear or not because it is the sexual harassers and the bullies who will be shamed and punished and not 51% of the world’s population based on our Gender!

        Quite frankly:
        1) I find the oppressive policing of women in many Arabic speaking communities distasteful and ALL women should condemn sexualising of women against our personal consent in the name of ANY reasons or religion.

        2) The reactive french ban is just a certain kind of entitled european xenophobia using “freedom” as an excuse to further a white supremist far right nazi agenda.

        3) There is nothing insecure and ridiculous about your feelings and your experience. Someone should get a life and stop oppressing other women in the name of conforming to patriarchal values!

        Thank you for writing this. I am very vocal about the french ban and I am equally vocal about women being denied access to education and opportunities equal to men in the arabic speaking world!

        all the best http://www.ceciliayu.com

  30. Observer says:

    We have the same thoughts but you were more specific and on point.
    I feel that people don’t understand that change is a slow process, we can’t force it to go on “faster”
    “Small” changes in a conservative country and conservative religion such as the burkini are huge leaps towards a more open modernized world. What the west sees as “baby steps” are actually a huge change in conservative societies. We are more welcoming to change and open to it so why don’t we keep it open when talking about Islam?
    Personally, I am anxious and intimidated towards these things such as the burkini because I see it as a thing of the past and should remain in the past, something “backwards” but now that I know the opinions form the others side-that being this Muslim woman’s opinion-I now understand that this is their way of showing how they welcome changes in the modern world.
    Like the slow steps of a baby, Islam is cautiously but surely, walking forward….In their own way.
    And we should welcome it.

  31. Chaya says:

    Interesting text, definitely. As a religious person myself (Jewish), I am not sure I can agree on all you pointed out from my perspective; but I don’t quite know the situation in the Muslim communities and how much there is the wish to escape the religious rulings. In our society it’s less an issue of honour but of disrespect to God but the internal pressure is not as high as it seems to be in the Muslim society. Of course when the state dictates how one should look like it’s thousand times more difficult, because then an individual can do less against a whole mechanism. When one is outside the state ruling such as in Western countries which don’t force people to wear certain clothing, I do think that someone honestly believing in religious principles should fight for his/her right to live them without being pressured. Seems like France becomes a different state. Doctrine is doctrine iin the end, and whether it is imposed according to Islamic or secular view, it doesn’t really matter in my eyes.
    Just for clarification, I live in Israel and it is very common to see women bathing here with all different kind of clothes. The tolerance offered here to different religious practices is hardly to compare to any Western type country.

  32. Heayher says:

    I’m a bit confused…I’m not sure what she is trying to say. She talks about the burkini and how it’s God’s moral order but didn’t God make Adam and Eve naked and it was only after they sinned they chose to cover up? God did not make that decision, man did. So, isn’t the more covering up going against God’s plan? I’m not saying I want people to walk around Naked or anything. I’m just saying I don’t believe how one dresses is going to get them closer to or keep them from having a relationship with God.

  33. Nabeel Zahran says:

    Should nuns be stripped off of their attire as well?

  34. Gabriela Esquivel says:

    Great! The best I have read regarding to this subject so far.

  35. Hiya, I think this is a really interesting article that contrasts a lot to much of the media coverage of the burkini in that it is much more informed. I am especially interested by the point you make about Islamic clothing conventions having changed – which to Westerners, who think that Islam is inherently sexist, shows that infact Islam can be “sexist” today but was not sexist yesterday. Do you have a particular source for the information about changing class structures in Egypt with the advance of political Islam? I would be really grateful if you could pass it on.

    As I say, I really like your article, but what about women’s reasons for wearing the burkini? What about the influence of British colonialism, which Muslim men and women reacted against? And what do you think of Islamic feminism of the Zainab al-Ghazali branch?

    I’m just reading this book https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wgA_CWCVZj4C&source=gbs_navlinks_s , which investigates women’s own reasons for covering themselves, especially in America. I think it reveals something missing in your own article, which is that women often choose to cover themselves as part of an anti-imperialist attitude or to emphasise the importance of including minority groups in society. Have you read it? I’d be interested to know what you think.

    • nervana111 says:

      Thank you for your comment. off course, i read it, it was pushed on me by Islamist groups during University era while bullying me to cover my hair. I was unconvinced. This colonialism is part of the mantra of political Islam, and it is “islamist” not Islamic. Going back in history, you will find era of liberalism when Muslim women’s dress code was less rigid, as during Andalusia, and other era when regression prevails as during Ottoman time. Islamism reinvented hijab as part of identity and used colonialism, as an excuse to reject modernity.

  36. Amir Atiya says:

    great article

  37. Colin Honeyman-Smith says:

    I see absolutely no justification for the state or local authorities deciding what you may or may not wear to go in the sea., I have baptised fully clothed people on my local beach and also swum naked at a beach that is suitably private. As long as people are not behaving in a way which is lewd or offensive , it is absolutely nobody else’s business what people wear.

  38. It is neither the state or the local authorities business what people wear to bathe in the sea. As long as their costume is suitably modest, people should have total freedom as to how much of their flesh they choose to cover or display.

  39. bbmp-phuddu says:

    crap of the highest order. 🙂

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  41. Something weird / funny happend, I sent your article to Hillel Neuer with the suggestion that u explain the issue much better than its statement and guess what ! I am blocked… well never mind, Thank u for your clear contribution

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  44. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I feel so ambivalent about the Burkini. Glad that women can get out but so sad that so many societies have turned the clock back. It is the women who suffer.

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  46. Andrea says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading this article and the comments Nirvana, thank you.
    I think the sad truth is that women will no longer go to the beaches…..so that probably means their children will miss out on the fun too. And, like you, they won’t learn to swim.
    I’ve travelled a lot, including in many Muslim countries and I remember I did find it strange in Aqaba, Jordan, where I came across lots of fully covered women in the sea……I thought it must be really uncomfortable to wear such an outfit, and for sure, they couldn’t swim in it! Well, I wouldn’t be able to anyway.
    I think it’s only fair that designated areas should be made available for women wearing burkinis…..they don’t need to be segregated…..I’d have no problem sharing a beach with them, I wouldn’t feel ‘threatened’ by them, or feel as if they were going to pull a gun on me at any moment.
    I think the photo is brilliant, it clearly points out the fact that women are happy sharing the waves with each other, regardless of their attire.
    I hope the debate continues, and moves on from ‘men, lust, uncontrollable urges’ etc.
    I was visiting Bangaldesh last year and a traveller I became friends with decided she wanted to buy a burqua! I was completely astonished! She’s an English lady approaching 70. She decided a black one would make her look too washed-out, so went for a brown one. Unfortunately I left before I had a chance to see it made up for her. I bet she looked splendid! My point here is that I hate the fact that clothes/outfits etc. have become politicised……I have a few shalwars now, made up from different countries, and they are so comfortable and colourful……all tailor made and fit like a glove.
    I look forward to reading more of your articles, keep up the good work!

    • nervana111 says:

      Many thanks Andrea. I agree with you. At least I was lucky to learn swimming as an adult in England. now the Burkini ban is lifted by the Supreme French court, but I doubt many of the advocate of Burkini will actually swim, because as you rightly pointed out, it is so uncomfortable. As for the English lady who bought a burqa, she is like many others who see regressive dress code as something trendy, just like yoga and organic food, but sooner or later she will see the dark side of it. At the end of the day, I am pro-freedom, and I hope people women alone to dress as they like.

  47. Adel says:

    Nice article, but wish you uncovered a bit from the Muslim men hypocrisy. I’m a Muslim man but when I go to the beach and I see these women all covered in black on a very hot summer day, I also see the other hypocrite side of their men all naked except for a Halal short and enjoying swimming, volleyball, squash etc… They don’t have to cover anything because simply their hair, chest, muscle, legs, etc.. have no problem with the opposite sex. To me that is the ultimate hypocrisy

  48. shueyb says:

    It’s a great article on the subject, very balanced and well-rounded, as it examines the issue from all angles.

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  51. Amtul says:

    I usually refrain from commenting on blog posts as I believe in your right of having an opinion,but you are painting all conservative Muslims with a broad brush,I’m a conservative muslim ,observe purdah go to beaches fully clad,my believes are for me, I dont judge other’s cloths or lack of them ,I suffer from skin condition that is aggravated by sun,many suporters of Burkini are skin cancer survivors and women like me who enjoy practicing a nugget of Islamic faith without imposing it on others. You could have written about Muslim eye ogling issue (yes it does exsist) using some other point of reference.Muslim society needs a better understanding of Islam and self reformation and writing about these issues is excellent but please leave the Burkini alone.

    • nervana111 says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is interesting that you believe in the right of people to have opnion, but you like to deny me that. More interestingly, you want to exempt burkini from scrutny, as if it is a superior untouchable issue.
      I doubt you have read my piece properly as I clearly wrote that I am pro-freedom of choice, I also refrained from painting individuals. The perception of superiority stems from Muslim societies not individuals, a reality that is hard for you to see because you was never bullied for wearing a swim suit. And please stop involving skin cancer in freedom of choice, cancer survivors do not preach bulling of non-Hijabi Muslim women. Finally, and by the way, belittling blog posts does not come across as good.

      • ketziah says:

        What did Amtul say that was belittling? I saw disagreement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean belittling. Also, how do you know Amtul hasn’t been bullied for wearing a burkini, or any other style of dress? There’s bullying of women in the Middle East who don’t wear burkinis, hijab, etc., but there’s also bully of women in the West who are wearing burkinis, hijab, etc. Bullying happens all over place, for all sorts of reasons.

        While styles of dress that are religiously mandated should be critiqued (and I mean “critiqued” in the academic sense–not as wholly negative, but as something that should be carefully considered for both negative and positive aspects), it should also be acknowledged that some people will follow religiously mandated dress for their own personal reasons. I maintain modest dress for my own reasons, and I am utterly indifferent to other people’s styles of dress. Their lives, their bodies, their choices.

        I also feel that more consideration should be given to Muslims–especially Muslim women–who do not originate from the Middle East. There are a lot of Muslims in the world who have no connection to the Middle East, and to hold their choices of dress accountable for injustices in the Middle East, or to say, “We have to fix the Middle East before you can make a choice,” feels very short-sighted and narrow-sighted.

        The rights of women in the Middle East are important. The rights of women in other places are also important. We can fight for women’s rights in multiple places concurrently. Women who are considered with their right to wear burkinis in France don’t disallow women to fight for their right to bikinis in the Middle East. This isn’t a zero-sum game.

        Like you said, all women should have the right to choose for themselves–but it feels like you’re criticizing women who are choosing burkinis, because other women can’t wear bikinis. While you make good points about how society has to change, you seem very defensive when a few people in the comments point out that they, as burkini-wearing women, have made their own choices for their clothing.

        I guess I’m just kinda indecisive about your post. You make really good points, but you also generalize, and some of your responses feel rather short-sighted and narrow-minded. It’s very difficult–if not impossible!–to remain objective when something hits close to home, but it’s always important to recognize that not everyone has the same experiences, and not everyone feels the same way. Also, not everyone is connected to the Middle East. A lot of people aren’t, and while they may (or may not) care about the Middle East, they shouldn’t have to put their lives on hold, or have to defend all of their choices, based on the circumstances in the Middle East.

  52. Gzodik says:

    I think many are missing the point here. In a secular society, religion and politics are usually kept private. Even bringing one of these subjects in an American social situation brings shouts of “No Religion!”, “No Politics!”. There is no formal rule, we just know by experience that these subjects are divisive and cause trouble.

    So, wearing clothing that shouts to everyone in view, “LOOK! I am a MUSLIM!” is inappropriate and shows ignorance of our secular society.

  53. rosabibi says:

    Hi there. I’m Muslim and Australian. I agree with your general point about the need to understand that defending the rights of Muslim women in the face of racism in the West risks playing into the hands of religious nationalists in Muslim majority societies but think that the lines are fuzzier than you denote. As background, I don’t wear hijab but my hijab wearing friends wear burquinis. I’ve also done fieldwork in Pakistan with both Islamist and liberal women’s organisations and have travelled in the Middle East.
    Having grown up near a popular Australian beach area, the level of sexual harassment of women and girls was/is a lot more than negligible (although a lot less brazen than I’ve experienced on beaches and other public places in various Muslim-majority locations). And most of the offenders are not Muslim. I don’t think that wearing a burquini would lessen that harassment – in fact of course it increases it in Australia – but I understand why friends feel that it shields them from oggling (of course they’re stared at more than ever but their skin isn’t visible).
    I’d add that burquinis and other ‘modest sportswear’ do not meet with approval from Islamist and other conservative Muslim men. Many of them don’t want females to be physically active – in the case of young girls they worry that it will break the hymen. Women developed this kind of sportswear (and adopted the burquini when it became available) to circumvent those kinds of restrictions. (By the way, Indonesian friends tell me that they were wearing cover-all swimsuits before the burquini was developed – the Aussie version just came with a catchy name, better fabric and easier to wear design). And it doesn’t meet with the approval of such men – see this fatwa:
    http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=131471

  54. zia says:

    why use bikni ? no need to wear bikni If fool womens want to show herself show completely and use their freedom 100 % not 2 %. In my opinion It is good to use wearing a swim suit to hide their secrete other wise may be in future they demand to use only bikni in office and road too.

  55. Nonames says:

    Excellent article. As a non Muslim female who lives in a Muslim country, I know how it feels to be told to cover up despite not having to, and being stared at in certain occasions when I do wear bikinis or crop tops. I think the Muslims fighting for freedom to wear burkinis need to practice this at the other end of the spectrum. Trust me, some of them do judge us non Muslims for our lack of dress or for our ways, those of you in western countries will not understand until you experience it.

  56. henacynflin says:

    Thank you for an extremely interesting piece. The issues you raise are important and well described. I’d agree with you that the main thing is that the individual gets to choose, as is their right, rather than being “stripped of the right to make their own choice on the matter.”

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  58. AJ says:

    Firstly, great article. Contentious point maybe but well explained from your point of view.
    Second. Just wow about the comments here. I’d rather not get into it.
    But I will say this.
    The right to freedom and right to expression of self and practicing the religion of your choice goes both ways and extends to all religions even if I or you or anyone else may not agree with it.
    It only stops at the point where our “freedom” causes injury to others or infringes on their freedom. And your choice of swimsuit does not affect anyone else in any way unless you end up not wearing one. lol

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  60. Mushtaaq Ahmed says:

    Islam is a religion of sacrifice. Men sacrifice by getting themselves circumcised and bearing the immense pain in their most sensitive part. Similarly women are expected to make some sacrifices by covering their bodies. I dont find anything wrong in that.

    • nervana111 says:

      Mushtaaq: Whoever thought Islam has done a very bad job. If you think circumcision is a *scarify* then you are – and with respect, clueless. And if you compare a one-off procedure that is actually considered scientifically as a medical treatment with daily oppression of women then I am running to of words to describe your mindset in a polite way. Finally, if you think God created us to abuse our bodies and deny ourself pleasure then you are worshipping a sadistic God who does not belong to Islam.

    • Gzodik says:

      Immense pain? Please. I was circumcised at the age of twenty. It was nothing.

  61. Cheryl thesen says:

    On a lighter note……I would consider wearing a burkini to cover up the winter flab that is refusing to relocate elsewhere!

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  65. grumpycat333 says:

    Just on the topic of the morbidly obese woman who wants to cover up – or maybe a woman who doesn’t want her skin to burn, there are many ways to cover up at the beach, from lycra shorts and t-shirts to sun dresses of various lengths, hats, kaftans, shorts and t-shirts, you name it. No need for clothing with regressive religious/imperialistic connotations. However, I don’t think any country can ban burkinis without looking foolish.

    I like what you have written on how regressives always want to raise the stakes, so maybe if the West embraced the Burkinin it would soon be frowned upon by Islamists.

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  67. Stephanie says:

    The burkini is no different to a diving suit, except with a different layer like a dress over her hips and thighs. Which I don’t recommend in the ocean because it will not help you get out of tips and currents under the water. No one deserves one deserves to be judged and assuming that a muslimah judges you on what your wearing is not normal. Some people judge others don’t, judge people on a individual level if you must.

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  69. Lois Damato says:

    I don’t like the idea that muslim men are trying to force their will on American and European women to dress the way they force their women to dress. I live in America, and I will dress any way I want. No muslim is going to tell me what to do. Lois, March 14, 2017

    • I was married for 9 years to a Persian man from the Middle East….I am Irish…I never felt that him nor any of friends pressured me to be anything except who I am. I would not like it either if I saw things the way you are perceiving…..People can only force things on you if you give them that much power in your life to do so. I do not know where you live so I do knot the enviroment in which you live….I now live in Dallas/Ft. Worth Texas and I love it.
      Forgot to mention my husband was murdered…it was not a divorce or anything like that. He practiced his religion and I practiced mine. We made sure our children had exposure to both religions and allowed him to choose one of ours or his own……There are so many stereotypes and myths between Muslims and Christians on both sides. I really believe we need to try to learn and understand our differences. It worked in my family and I feel quite certain it can work for society. We actually had a Irish Catholic wedding and then a marriage in his. Our friends and family attended both and everyone seemed to have a lovely time at both ceremonies.

      • nervana111 says:

        Many thanks. Personal experiences may not reflect the wider society. You late husband was Persian, so most probably Shia. the vast majority of Muslims, however, are traditional Sunni

  70. Sorry for my blatant spelling in a few cases…I was taking care of my Collie and was writing while walking..

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