Lebanese MP Elie Marouni Blames Lebanese Women For Getting Raped


She was asking for it is the excuse of every sexual predator out there to justify his insatiable thirst in violating the body of a woman who was not asking for it.

She was wearing a skirt too tight or too short. Her blouse was too revealing. She was flirting. Anything a woman does that can be interpreted in that rapist’s brain as an advance is considered as her “asking for it” without her being as such at all.

Now how about that mentality perpetuating in the mind of yet another misogynistic Lebanese who not only  has a wide platform to speak from, but also has the job to make sure women are a protected entity in society by legislating the laws for that purpose.

Zahle Kataeb MP Elie Marouni decided that standing up for women rights was not something on his agenda nor was it something he’s probably willing to entertain. Keep in mind, this man is responsible for making sure women are protected when they are raped, when they’re victims of domestic violence, just to name a few.

In a recent press conference (link), Marouni was not a fan of allowing Lebanese women to grant their nationality to their children. Why? Because we have a lot of Palestinians and Syrians (also known as very scary Muslims) who would “change the country’s demographics.”

That wasn’t the best part, however. When asked about the Lebanese penal code law that stipulates that a rapist can marry his victim whereby absolving him of his crime. His reply was as follows: “In some instances, one has to wonder about the woman that pushes a man to rape her. Thank you!”

He was thankful for the applause he got. Some of that applause was probably out of women as well for that horrifying statement. Yes, because it’s that unfathomable for Marouni apparently that a man should probably keep it in his pants until the woman “pushing” him says yes.

A feminist activist rose up to the occasion on the spot and chastised him for his statement, saying she was “ashamed” to have someone like him represent her in parliament. Marouni was then “offended” that she was ashamed.

“If only that woman whose name I don’t know and I don’t want to know who objected in such an offensive way had waited until the end of the conference to see how many women had taken their picture with me.”

Yes, because people posing for pictures with you is exactly the standard by which one judge’s your sexism and misogyny. That sad moment when a Lebanese MP is more taken aback by the fact that someone challenged his backward dogma than by the fact he thinks it’s okay in some cases for men to rape women in 2016.

Dear Mr. Marouni, I’m also ashamed to have you as a Lebanese MP, legislating (or not) on my behalf in any function, being a person who does not understand that people’s sanctity is holy. Also, being ashamed at you is not “offending” you. It’s probably the most courteous thing one could tell you at such a statement given the circumstances.

Why don’t you think about your female relatives for once? Put yourself in their shoes if only for a moment to see how despicable it is for their brother, their son, etc.. to say that them being violated can sometimes be justified or that they can sometimes be blamed for having a man force himself on them.

Mr. Marouni, this is the discourse in which you are taking away a woman’s right to her own body away from her, like almost every other right in this God forsaken country that has been taken away from those same women you believe can be sometimes blamed for being raped.

I fail to see how anyone such as you can be trusted to come up and defend laws that defend every single Lebanese person in any aspect. Granted, you are doing none of that, but in the hypothetical scenario that you might, how am I supposed not to be ashamed that the laws of my country are being ratified by men with such a mentality?

But please, by all means, keep on thinking women posing for pictures with you is enough justification for you thinking they’re open season.


Lebanese MP Hadi Hobeish Destroys A Forest In Akkar To Build His Villa

The saga of every single Lebanese official being above the law they’re supposed to safeguard continues. This time, the culprit is the prized son of Qobayet Hadi Hobeish, an MP with the Future Movement, who is destroying the beautiful nature of his hometown just so he can get road access to his mansion.

Qobayet – Hadi Hobeish’s village – is one of Lebanon and Akkar’s largest towns. It’s also famed for having one of Akkar’s most pristine and well-preserved green spaces, which is known as the Ammou’a. The following are pictures from that site and it’s as gorgeous as you can imagine:

It wouldn’t be hard to imagine MP Hobeish destroying these reserves as well if it meant having easier access to his mansion.

The irony starts with other inhabitants of the region being refused by the Lebanese government to have the privilege that it bestowed upon MP Hobeish in order for them to have access to their homes as well, forcing them to end up paying for long and winding roads instead.

What our parliament member did, however, was get the government to issue a decree (numbered 8880) which “legalized” a road through an entire hill in Qobayet upon which he wanted to build his mansion, with the approval of the ministries of environment and agriculture, of course.

The result of the destruction in pictures is as follows:


The above document from the Ministry of Agriculture allowed the MP to cut down: 295 pine trees, 578 Oak trees and 55 Pistacia trees. All of the trees that he was allowed to cut down were thousands of years old. The fact of the matter is, however, that he didn’t only cut down those but he destroyed thousands more in order to build his mansion and make the road as efficient as possible.

The end result is a Lebanese MP getting what he wants, destroying an entire forest in doing so, and the Lebanese government not only letting him do that but almost rolling down the red carpet for such an atrocity to take place.

Hadi Hobeish pretends to want what’s best for his hometown, which is why he throws around annual summer festivals bringing in Lebanese singers who wouldn’t visit that area otherwise. When the attention cools down, however, he proceeds to do what everyone else does and bend the laws at his will, destroy whatever he can destroy in order for him to have his way.

Not only did MP Hobeish destroy the forest, but he did it using governmental money because the decree stipulated that the road needed to be done for “public reasons.”

The road only leads to his house.

Welcome to the jungle.

If we had lived in a slightly more civilized country, an MP committing such a scandal wouldn’t only end up with him being forced to resign, it ends up with him being thrown in jail. Not only is the area that MP Hobeish destroyed extremely ecologically important, but it’s also one of Lebanon’s remaining few places of preserved forest lands.

This is yet another disgrace to add to the constant transgressions by Lebanese officials, especially Northern ones, to the land they’re supposed to upkeep. The sadder part is that you have Walid Joumblat vacationing in Europe, tweeting all kinds of pictures making fun of how Lebanon pales in comparison to the countries he’s visiting, while his own minister approved the eradication of a huge forest in his home country.

Jumblat Tweet

The most heartbreaking part about all of this is that nothing can be done. It’s a circle of mafia that enables each other, benefitting from the fact that it can never be challenged, as it pretends to run a country.

Save Kfarabida: Lebanese Government Wants To Turn Batroun’s Best Beaches Into a Private Yacht Club

The place that welcomes you North, once you cross the Madfoun, is an idyllic coastal town in Batroun called Kfaraabida. It has around 1000 voters, a small municipal board, and a resourceful mayor that has been around for nearly two decades.

What Kfaraabida is known for, however, is the presence of countless beach spots for beach-lovers to go to, as well as multiple sea-side restaurants in the area. Of those, I note: Barracuda, which many Beirutis attend weekly on Thursday for George Nehme and his band, White Beach, Pierre and Friends (technically not in Kfaraabida per se but might as well).

The area houses some of Lebanon’s most pristine beaches. Many of them are free, or cost very little to access. But, most importantly, they are some of Lebanon’s cleanest, with rock formations that serve as a habitat for many marine animals. Those rocks can also serve as beautiful Instagram pictures, since that’s what matters most these days.

Well, recently, the Lebanese government passed a decree whereby 37,000 squared meters of Kfaraabida’s beaches, and 4000 squared meters of sea that will be reclaimed, are to be given to a PRIVATE company which will use the area to build a private resort and yacht club.

How much money will that company pay the Lebanese government yearly for such an atrocity? $30,000. For reference, that’s less money than a private beach makes per week with their exuberant entrance price. So yes, the government is taking one of Batroun’s best beaches, getting no money for it, and giving it to a company to ruin it and make it private.

Live love Lebanon indeed.

Apart from the gross corruption taking place in having our government enable a private company from taking what should be OUR public property, and turn beaches that are as of now free into a private resort for their yachts and for their swimming pleasure, the project will have detrimental effects on the region and the town:

  1. The marine life in the region will be threatened. As I mentioned, those beaches are a habitat for many of such creatures.
  2. Fishermen in the region use those beaches as points from which they go fishing.
  3. Batrounis and Northerners who can’t afford $30 entrance prices to beaches will have nowhere to go to anymore.
  4. The area is so diverse in both marine life and rock formations that its inhabitants thought it should be turned into a natural reserve. It’s now being destroyed instead.
  5. The project is being done with utter disregard of Kfarabida’s municipality.

Batroun’s MP Boutros Harb doesn’t see what the fuss is about and believes the project is beneficial given it will generate jobs, because ruining the environment and the lives of the people of the area is the only way to do so. Maybe he should just transfer the project to the Balaa pothole in Tannourine instead?

So Kfarabida’s municipality, it’s up to you to make sure that such a project doesn’t see the day of light in your jurisdiction. They are taking your hand, claiming it as their own, ruining everything about it that makes it beautiful, and leaving you in the dust.

Dear Lebanon’s government, how many more beaches will you ruin, spaces will you steal before you reach equilibrium with your need to build yacht clubs for your members? The sad part is that we live in a country where such flagrant corruption will, unfortunately, end up being unpreventable.

I mourn for my North. They only care about it when they can ruin it in projects that only bring them money but not its people.

For more detailed information about the project’s legality, check out this link.

Mental Health: The Silenced Killer of Lebanese Youth – إلى نورهان المشاكسة

Nourhan Hammoud

Nourhan Hammoud was Lebanese girl in her twenties, from the South, full of life, her friends had never known her to be fragile, non-smiling or weak. She dreamt of the days when she would leave this country that brought her down, but the afterthought of her mother kept her here.

On August 29th, 2016 – the weights of this world proved too much for Nourhan Hammoud and she decided that ending her own life willingly was the easiest of choices.

Nourhan was not smiling all the time. She was wearing a veneer of strength in a society that viewed her ailment – depression – as nothing more than something of which one could “snap out” of. But depression is never something one could “snap out” of. It’s the weight of a thousand boulders on your shoulders, oppressing your chest, suffocating every breath out of your lungs, as your lips turn into the shadow of a smile to let your friends be fooled into thinking you are okay.

Our ad agencies make fun of anxiety. Our society makes fun of depression. We ridicule schizophrenia. We fear bipolars. We look at these people who are ill and call them “insane,” put them in a corner, chastise them, segregate them, drive them away instead of in.

Nourhan committed suicide not out of cowardice. There are no harder decisions. She did so out of necessity, out of feeling that there was nothing in this life worth living for anymore. We’ve fostered that kind of feeling in her and inside everyone in this country who has done so, or is suffering from a mental health ailment.

We are losing our own youth to our own prejudices in more ways than one. We’ve turned “mdapras” into a joke. We’ve let those who seek help feel ashamed of doing so in the clinics they seek.

Nourhan Hammoud, may you rest in peace.

I leave you with the words of her friend Aly Sleem:

هي من ابشع اللحظات التي لا نعرف ماذا نقول فيها، فنحن لا نحبّ الوداع ونكره الرحيل ونتعلّق بالذكريات. نورهان…. لم أتخيّل يوماً بأن أسمع “خبرك”، عادة لا يموت الا الكبار في السن، لم أتعود بعد على فكرة أن المفعمات بالحياة يُخطفن وهنّ ماضيات في حياتهن، غير آبهات بأحد… أتذكّر منذ اشهر قليلة، في مزيان، قلتي لي انك توديّن السفر، ربما تفكرين بتركيّا، لكنك تخافين فراق الوالدة، وفراق شارع الحمراء وفراق الأصدقاء، لكن أنانيتك أبت إلّا  ان تتخلى عنهم جميعاً، في لحظة، دون استئذاننا، دون تحضيرنا نفسيّاً، بلا حتى رسالة على موقع تواصل اجتماعي حقير وبائس كحالتنا.

لكن مهلاً، انت لست بقويّة، انت خدعتنا جميعاً ولا زلت يا جميلة، حتى برثائنا لك نمجّد قوتك التي لطالما افتخرتي بها، وهل القوة هي بإنهاء حياتنا بأنفسنا يا متمرّدة؟ أتذكرين كم مرّة اطلقتي السباب على السياسيين والوطن؟ لماذا رحلتي دون أن تلعنيهم مرة اخيرة؟

لكن ايضاً مهلاً، كيف كان يحصل كل هذا ونحن غير مدركين؟! كيف لم ندرك ان نورهان متألمة؟ أن مشهد الضحايا في سوريا أدماها، ان الأمل المتلاشي في بيروت خنقها، ان هذا الكيان لن يُكتب له أن يصبح وطناً؟ أن “كبار العيل” في البلد سرقونا ولن يرحمونا؟

كيف يمكن لنا ان نمجّد قرارها “الحر” بالموت؟ لا، هذه الثقافة غير مقبولة، نورهان وغيرها تمنوا لو لم يأخذوا هكذا قرار، لا يمكن لهؤلاء أن يقبلوا بتهليل دموع وصريخ الأحبة… هذا جنون، كان لا بد لنا أن نضع حدّاً لمشاكسة “زهرة الجنوب الصغيرة”، كل ما كانت تحتاجه هو بضعة من الأمل والأمان… نورهان بحثت كثيراً، لم تجدهما فمضت في رحلة بحث عنهما.

وكأن بي أسمعك يا نورهان الآن تقولين: الموت يحاوطنا كما تحيط الدائره بمركزها لكننا لا نشعر به إلا عندما تضيق الدائرة وتمسّنا فى أشخاص قريبة وسرعان ما تصل الينا، دون أن ندري… تشبثوا بالأحباب لا حب فيهم فقط بل لطفاً بعذاب الأمهات والأخوات والأولاد إن نووا الرحيل…

لنحسب أن نورهان نائمة اليوم، لنحسب أنفسنا استيقظنا قبلها لنصلح كل شيء، لنعطي أملاً بأن الحياة لن تله بنا بعد اليوم وتسخر، ثم نوقظها، نوقظها لتسامحنا….
كل الحب…

An event is taking place on Saturday September 10th to raise awareness for suicide. Check it out and go for Nourhan, and every other Lebanese whose conditions we’ve made intolerable.
Lebanon Suicide

The Day I Disappeared: Remembering The Lebanese Who Have Been Missing For Decades

Photo via ICRC.

Photo via ICRC.

Yesterday, August 29th 2016, I disappeared for a day. It was part of a campaign by the International Committee of the Red Cross that I felt compelled to be part of, almost no questions asked.

It started with one simple picture, on a white background on which the hashtag – both in Arabic and English – was emblazoned: #TheDayIDisappeared or #يوم_اختفيت. I shared that picture on my various social media platforms (example) then went radio silent for the most part of the day. 

A couple of hours later, my friends and family members began to get worried. What was that image I had posted? Why wasn’t I replying to their messages? Why wasn’t I chastising that Aounist video all over social media over the past two days?

The calls started pouring in. Is there anything wrong? They’d ask. We’re worried, they’d tell me. In that moment, it’s really beautiful to feel loved. But the fact of the matter is that I wasn’t in any danger. I was just going offline for a day – something that many people do frequently – trying to erase any trace of me from how people expect your behavior to be modeled in 2016.

I was not missing or disappeared. I was pretty much around. I was accessible. I was not an entity with an unknown fate. I was sitting in my office, working, willfully pretending not to exist for a day.

This simplification of what it is to be missing is a gross understatement of the lives of thousands of Lebanese families over the past few decades.

At a time when our war is over, theirs continues. They are at war every day: at war with their beings that long for their family members about whom they’ve heard nothing for tens of years, at war with the semblance of hope that rejuvenates in their souls every single morning, at war with a government that doesn’t care, at war with a country that more than readily wants to let go.

Over the weekend, I spoke extensively with a thirty two year old man named Jalal Kobtan whose father went missing at the same age Jalal is now thirty years ago. You can read Jalal’s story in my article for Al-Jazeera at the link (here).

There are many things we take for granted when our loved ones are around, the least of which is how they shape us. Jalal, for instance, never had his father teach him how to drive, or ride a bike or even swim. He told me how longing he was when he saw all the other kids with their fathers learn all of the things he had to rely on himself to learn.

Sometimes, you don’t know how big of a rock some people are to you until they’re gone. Thousands of Lebanese families haven’t only lost their rocks, but their entire pillars. Today is the day to tell them that we are here, that we care, and that their lives are more than just a hashtag and a Facebook profile picture.

There are fewer things in life that hurt more than the pain of not knowing, which I dubbed the pain of ambiguity. This is the daily life of all those families whose loved ones went missing without a trace all those decades ago. To wake up every single day not knowing what your father or son or daughter or mother’s fate is, to realize there’s nothing you can do but pray to whichever entity is listening, to have your soul torn apart by the fact there’s just so much you can do. There’s nothing worse than this. This is life to many of these people.

In the coming years, many of the parents of the Lebanese who went missing will be no more without finding any semblance of closure. Today is the day to remember those parents, those mothers who have kept their sons’ rooms as they are all these years, those fathers who long for the day when they can hug their flesh and blood and tell them that everything will be okay, even if everything isn’t. Hemostasis, however, is not in sight.

To Lebanon’s families of missing people, today we share your pain. May it not be ambiguous anymore.

From Bikini To Burkini, Or Why Lebanon’s Tripoli Is Awesome

A picture of two veiled burkini-clad women, and another bikini-wearing on one of Tripoli’s popular beach islands is going viral today across Lebanon’s internet-sphere. The last time this many people were interested in the city was to berate it for the way it voted in an election, but that election is now long past and so has those people’s attention from this great city up North.

In that picture, the two stark opposites represent this city that I love more than anything else. So I figured, in this small space that I have, that I’d try to tell you – kind reader – of why this city whose picture you’re so eagerly sharing is worth your time.

1) Bikini versus Burkini:

Bikini:Burkini Tripoli

Picture via @Jadgghorayeb

Over the years, many Lebanese have come to associate an image with Tripoli as that of a city that is ravaged by war, where Islamists reign supreme and where seculars – or anyone who does not want to live by the Sharia for that matter – is not welcome.

The constant and progressive decimation in the city’s reputation is slowly being reversed as of late, with many flocking to its pristine beach islands, to the growing safety of its streets.

The above picture, however, is not an anomaly. It’s the culmination of years in which the city’s varying components co-existed calmly, away from politics and hateful rhetoric, and here they are in all their glory.

2) Beirut’s food prices will have a seizure:


You’ve all seen that infamous “Grand Café” picture over the past few weeks and the comparison (although inaccurate) to potential trips to Istanbul that that same bill would’ve covered. Many of you have complained about the price hike in diner chains you’ve loved for years. Now let me tell you a short story.

Yesterday, I took a group of my friends who hadn’t visited Tripoli but to do some necessary paperworks that people of the North have to do in it to one of the city’s restaurants. Their first reaction scanning the prices of that menu – one of Tripoli’s more expensive places, may I add – was to ask one question: how?

Four main courses, drinks, and appetizers later, our bill was less than half of what we would’ve paid for the same combination at any given place in our country’s capital. And the food was great.

In fact, the food is great everywhere. From the restaurants offering Lebanese to those offering mixed cuisine across the city, to the vendors selling cheese and kaak, to the many coffee places many of which I love – Ahwak for the win – to the sweets places and palaces that the city have become synonymous with, you can do no wrong.

3) Lebanon’s biggest old souk is there:


Everyone loves to go to Jbeil to see its “authentic” great souks. And while Jbeil’s old sector is awesome, it is dwarfed by what lies in Tripoli’s old city.

Not only is Tripoli’s souk one of Lebanon’s biggest, and is relatively well-kept, but it has retained a flair of authenticity with it being a melting pot of all of the city’s inhabitants, across their sociopolitical status.

The old souks are still divided based on the different services they offer, from khan el saboun to khan el dahab, to the many Ottoman-styled hammams inside them. They’re a must-visit if you’re in the city and in the mood for some meet up with Lebanese history.

4) Citadel St. Gilles is awesome:

Built by the Crusaders, Citadel St. Gilles in Tripoli’s Tebbaneh neighborhood is an extremely well-kept fortress that, because of its location, is rarely viewed as a touristic destination. But it is, and you’d be missing out by not checking it out.

It’s almost 900 years old, has been morphed over the years by the many occupiers of the city into what it is today, and the place being almost always not crowded gives you a visiting experience that view other touristic spots in Lebanon offer.

The entrance is also a simple: 5,000LL.

5) Rachid Karame Forum is spectacular:

Designed by the late Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Rachid Karame Forum at the entrance of the city is a vast space that’s probably the most accurate representation of the wasted potential of the city.

Intended to be the hub of an economic forum as plans to turn the city into a Lebanese economic capital were underway, the place is now almost a ghost-town of modern unfinished architecture and landscape designs that will surely blow you away.

6) The Palm Islands are amazing:

Pic via The Daily Star

Pic via The Daily Star

A natural reserve set forth by the Lebanese state, a section of the Palm Islands has been made available for beach-lovers to visit in order to exercise their favorite hobby. From clean sands to pristine waters, the islands are near-free to get to – unlike all the resorts in or around Beirut and its greater area.

Fun fact: the Arabic name for the Islands is rabbit islands. It is as such because during the period of the French occupation, rabbits were let loose on the island. What were two soon became hundreds, and therefore the naming occurred.

7) Timmy’s in El Mina is the pub to go to:


When I say alcohol, Tripoli is probably the last place you’d think of. But there’s a pub in the old neighborhood in El Mina called Timmy’s that will help you change your mind a little. It’s an old traditional sea-side Lebanese house that has been turned into a massive space for those who feel like they need to wind down after a long day or week.

From sand-stone interior, to chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, to doors manned by a camera based on which the owner decides which clientele he wants to admit or not, the only adjective that could describe the place is exclusive but approachable.

When I was there, I had a discussion with the owner about why he adopted such a policy. He said that he wants to keep the place at a high enough level to attract people to his city. And attract people he does. For the moment, most of those who flock to Timmy’s are either from Tripoli or from the neighboring areas of Zgharta or Koura or sometimes Batroun. But that could change.

8) El Mina’s corniche is one awesome walk:

The same night when I had a few friends try out one of my favorite restaurants in Tripoli and they got shocked with how cheap and good it was, I took them on a drive around the sea corniche in Mina. Stretching for more than 3 kilometers, it is one of Lebanon’s longest and more authentic.

From vendors in small kiosks on the side, to kids flying around kites, to men praying in the heat while they fish, on that corniche you’ll see all kinds of kinds, in a city that has everything you’d see.

9) The people are the most kind-hearted you’ll find:

From close friends, to the people that would give you money for park meters when you’re out of coins, to the hefty portions you’re served anywhere you go, to the overall sense of welcome they infuse in the air of their city, the people of Tripoli are some of the most kind-hearted welcoming people you’ll meet in this country.

I’ve had the pleasure to know many of them, some of whom were like my family at a certain point, and I call myself lucky for doing so.

10) Life exists North of the Madfoun:

The Lebanese border does not end sligthly north of Jbeil. Venture out. Explore a little. Odds are you may be surprised – even if for a picture involving a bikini and a burkini. Suck on that Cannes?

To Burkini Or Not To Burkini: The Ages Of Men Deciding What Women Should Wear

When it comes to cultural assimilation, many parts of Europe have not been exemplary in the way they’ve dealt with the many minorities that have sought their land as refuge over the years, but none more so than France, whose problem with people who are lesser-white than the average they’re used to goes back to the time where it occupied much of Northern Africa and contributed to a mass exodus of people from those areas to serve as cheap labor for their home country.

The immigrants that flocked to France challenged the French about what it was to be as such: what is the French identity? What makes France as it is? How do we integrate such diversity into what we already know and take as scripture? Needless to say, the French model failed miserably.

Instead of integrating the laborers in French societies, they were settled along metropolitan areas with other destitute French, close enough to work but far enough from being part of actual French society, further widening the divide between “authentic” French and otherwise. Social programs, a hallmark of the French political system, also contributed to further encourage the differences between both population groups, further making the grounds for discrimination more fertile.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that in the France of today, and similarly to the African American situation in the United States, French jails have a much higher population of North African-origin inmates than of any other population, relative to their proportion of the general French populace.

As the French general public failed to grasp the fundamental problem at hand, the political rhetoric started to mirror the growing dismay from those immigrants. From having the French symbol “La Marianne” in a veil on the cover of Le Figaro, to tell people that France would become Muslim in 30 years, to people like Jean Marie Le Pen painting those immigrants as violent, uncontrollable, and who breed like rabbits.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that in 2004, the French state decided to ban the public use of the veil, much to the outcry of many Islamic and human rights group who saw the move as a gross encroachment on the rights of those women. The argument back then was that France, being a secular state, did not tolerate any signs of religiosity. The underlying tone, however, was that this secular state with an Christian undercurrent would not tolerate an apparent Islamization in its PR.

The rift between “immigrants” – French like everyone else but always viewed as lessers – and French continued to grow through the years, between attacks on Charlie Hebdo, to the terrorist attacks that overtook Paris and Nice, to the increasing rise of the Front National. Today, the clash of culture is taking place in a different way: French statesmen want to ban a conservative swimwear colloquially called the “Burkini” – a term merging both Burka and Bikini – in their attempt to preserve the semblance of the “liberated” image of France.

Introduced in Australia by a Muslim woman who tried to merge her religious and Australian lives, the piece of clothing soon became global. With the French bans, many people are purchasing them around the world in solidarity. The outcry against the French ban is deafening. The question of the matter, however, is why would such a ban be conceived in the first place?

This is a continuation of the French problem in trying to assimilate different parts of what makes France as it is into a modern identity that is holistic and inclusive. The French revolution slogan “equality, liberty, brotherhood” seems to only be applicable as long as you fit within the code of such a statement.

The ban is equal part Islamophobic and an attack on a woman’s freedom of expression. Would French police arrest a nun, for instance, who is wearing her religious clothing on a beach just because she is covered up? Would they arrest a swimmer clad in their sport clothes? Would they arrest any woman whose clothes attire conflicts with what they deem acceptable enough to fit within the narrowing, rather than broadening, confines of French culture of 2016?

Burkini - 2

The ban of the Burkini can be summarized as follows: men trying to impose a dress code on women who have already had a dress code enforced on them by men elsewhere who view their chastity as directly proportional to how much skin they cover up, never knowing that maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t in the skin that is exposed or not, but rather in the minds that look at that skin in the first place.

Before Arabs and Muslims can be upset about France banning Burkinis, ins’t some introspection into what is happening in our own backyards warranted? How many of our cultures and countries coerce our women into covering every inch of them, whether they want to or not? How many of our cultures and countries treat women as second rate citizens just because they were not born men, limiting them with what those who were born men believe those women should be entitled for? How many of our cultures and countries have made women feel insecure just by walking down the streets with eyes that ravaged their bodies regardless of how covered up they were?

How many of our cultures and countries have stopped women from even going to the beach for fear of being viewed as nothing more than meat? How many of our cultures and countries have made wearing the hijab, and consequently items of clothing such as the burkini, as an indication of the woman wearing them – whether she wants to or not – essentially being a better person than the woman who decided not to? The fact of the matter is that women are more prone to be sexually harassed on our beaches, whether they were wearing a Burkini or a bikini, than in the beaches of France, even if they’re wearing nothing.

Tackling the abhorrent rise of Islamophobia in France cannot therefore occur without looking inside our own homes for once. Do we allow our women to wear whatever they want without conferring moral judgement on them for doing so? Do we give our women the freedoms that we believe they are being robbed of in France or elsewhere? Do we not pass judgement on those women who decide to go to the beach wearing a Bikini just because they felt like it, categorizing them as everything we believe women should not be?
The answer is no.

The resources France is putting into banning the Burkini are completely unnecessary. It’s a legislation that has become a farce: that of armed police officers assaulting decent women at the beach to strip them of their clothes. By coercing them out of a Burkini, the French state is doing to those women something that’s as bad as forcing them into one in the first place. It’s unfortunate that while standing as such a crossroads, France and the rest of Europe decide to make a U-turn rather than advance further into creating an environment where women can be free to choose whether they want to wear a Burkini or not. Instead, you have a bunch of men deciding they know, once more, what women want and what they should do. When ISIS tells Muslims they’re nothing but second class citizens in the West, one wonders, when does the West realize that its practices play right into ISIS’ hand?