For many women in Muslim countries, this garment is often the only way to take a bath in public. In Europe, the so – called Burkini leads to similar discussions, as they have already been triggered by the headscarf. It has to be mentioned at that point, that the burkini as a garment is not a new invention. In Egypt, such a swimsuit known as “sharia swimsuit” or “swiming hijab” has been available since about the year 2000. In Türkiye, the Burkini is known and available as Haşema and in the US as Splashgear. Also in other world religions the wearing of swimwear, covering large parts of the female body is a common tradition, for example in Orthodox Judaism.
But why does the garment designed by Lebanese – Australian designer Aheda Zanetti polarize in such a way, and what exactly is it about?
The Burkini is a two – part swimsuit designed for women, which serves to cover the female body up to the face, hands and feet.
In Trieste, the wearing of the Burkinis has been criticized heavily and led to a real political debate. In the historic beach resort of “La Lanterna” in the centre of the Italian port city, some Muslim women sought to cool down in the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea. As usual in Muslim countries, they wore a Burkini. A fauxpas for some of the bathers present, which immediately confronted the Muslim women with statements such as: ” You do not bathe here. Bathing with Burkini is unhygienic.“ The situation calmed down after the gendarmes and the safety guards of the beach bath arrived at the scene. Some bathers then showed solidarity with the Muslim women and planned to organize a symbolic initiative and send a message against racism.
The reaction of the bathers in Trieste is surprising, especially in the “La Lanterna” beach resort, as it is the last bathing establishment in Europe, in which men and women are strictly separated from each other. For this reason, the beach bath is particularly popular with muslim women.
Just a few days after the incident, demonstrators gathered in the beach resort of Trieste and took hands together, wearing Burkinis and had a bath in the Adriatic sea. The response to this solidarity campaign triggered counter – protests, which were carried into the northern Italian politics as well.
Thus, the Mayor of Trieste, Roberto Dipiazza, a member of the Forza Italia legal party, commented on the situation as follows: “Is it possible for a woman from Trieste to take a bath in Saudi Arabia wearing a Bikini? No. If you come to another country, you should adapt not only to the laws, but also to the traditions of the place.”
The subject of Burkini has been a hot topic in Carinthia’s neighbouring region Friuli Venezia Giulia for several weeks now. The mayor of the Friulian port city of Monfalcone, Anna Maria Cisint, had an open letter addressed to the Muslim community about a month ago. In doing so, she had called on her to pay attention to “Western beach practices” and not to bathe in the sea. She said she was ready to ban the Burkini, if necessary.
The Italian Solidarity Consortium (ICS) restated that it was not possible, on the basis of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to restrict clothing for religious reasons and announced that it would take legal action against all counter – demonstrators.
On the part of the Italian – rights Lega Party, the solidarity rally has been interpreted as a “flop” and as a task for the party to establish new rules in the sense of the citizens. Officials of the Lega party commented the situation as follows: ” The Left wing has not yet understood what it is all about and accuses both the citizens and us, the Lega party, to be Islamophobic and racists. Accusation that we obviously send back to the sender. For us, it is a matter of urban decency, a question of hygiene and a question of the rights of women who cannot be forced to bathe completely veiled at unaffordable temperatures, like we have right now. But the left wing can’t say that because it would violate political correctness and the world improvers that characterize them. It is necessary to adapt to the customs and traditions of the countries in which you are located. It is a matter of common sense that we, as the Lega Party, intend to press ahead with a proposal for a regulation that gives a voice to those citizens who are tired of never being heard. ”
Words, which surprise only little from the ranks of the Lega Party. Thus, in its ideology, the party orientates itself to Gianfranco Miglio and its state – law and national – economic theories of a network of the New Right, the synergies Européennes. The cultural self – image of the Lega Nord is a pride in the cultural heritage of northern Italy, especially with historical references to the so called „Lombardenbund“, as well as the rejection of the southern Italian. From the point of view of the party, the supposedly more diligent, more efficient and smarter citizens of northern Italy are supposedly ethnically different from the regions of the South that have been left behind. The Lega Nord considers itself an independent, free and, above all, regional – northern Italian political force.
Right – wing parties have always been trying to generate political capital with provocative statements. However, such political debates cause far more than just stifles. They promote the social divide in Europe and, once again, are water on the mills of those networks, which accuse Europe of chronic Islamophobia and xenophobia.
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