Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Burkini : “C’est une provocation”.

with 12 comments

L'arrêté contre les vêtements non respectueux des «bonnes mœurs et de la laïcité» placardé à l'entrée d'une plage à Nice, le 19 août 2016.

Nice Beach By-Laws on “bonnes mœurs et de la laïcité”.

Mediapart reports,

Dans Le Monde d’aujourd’hui, JLM condamne les “militantes provocatrices en burkini”.  Michelle Guerci.

 «L’instrumentalisation communautariste du corps des femmes est odieuse. C’est un affichage militant, mais quand on est l’objet d’une provocation, mieux vaut ne pas se précipiter dedans […] La masse des musulmans est excédée par une histoire qui les ridiculise. Valls a eu tort d’en rajouter. »

The ‘communitarian’ * exploitation of women’s bodies is vile. It’s a militant badge, but even so when we are the target of a provocation the best thing to do is not to get involved…The majority of Muslims are frustrated by this row, which makes them look ridiculous. Valls (Prime Minister) is wrong to add to it.

Il ressort de cette interview que JLM, ne condamne ni les maires qui ont pris ces arrêtés, ni Manuel Valls qui les a soutenus,  ni la droite sarkoziste qui a orchestré cette campagne, ni le gouvernement qui laisse faire (3), mais des femmes accusées d’instrumentaliser leur propre corps ou de l’être par leurs maris, pères, cousins… Bref la fameuse COMMUNAUTE.

It is apparent in this interview that JLM neither condemns the Mayors who have instituted these by-laws, nor Manuel Valls (Prime Minister) who backs them, nor the (ex-President) Sarkozy’s right-wing which has orchestrated the campaign, nor the the government which has allowed this to happen, but the women involved, who have used their own bodies, or have been ‘used’ by their husbands, their fathers, their cousins…to put it simply, the famous “community”.

Le burkini est le fruit d’une offensive religieuse salafiste qui ne concerne qu’une partie de l’islam […] La question politique à résoudre reste celle du combat des femmes pour accéder librement à l’espace public.

The burkini is the product of a Salafist religious offensive which only affects a part of Islam….There still remains the political issue of women’s struggle for free access to the public sphere.

Michelle Guerci points out that the Burkini is in fact a relatively new phenomenon, which would itself be prohibited under the rule of severe Wahhabist codes.


Now it is the case that  the CCIF (Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France), at the head of the campaign to defend the Burkini  has been accused of being a front for Islamists, by no less than the Canard enchaîné “CCIF : « Des islamistes qui avancent mosquée » (Le Canard enchaîné, 17 août 2016)“.

So-called ‘anti-racists’ in the UK, who have never lifted a finger against the actions of the religious police in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere,  who institute even more serve religious laws  are apparently preparing protests against the ban. “Anti-racists in France and Britain are preparing to protest against the “burkini ban” imposed in 18 localities in France.” reports Socialist Worker.

But the involvement of the morally tainted forces does not make the ban right.

We can only agree with Guerci in saying that, apart from the distasteful political opportunism, nationalism and straight-forward bullying involved police enforced laws  on this level of personal conduct are the opposite of the secularist fight against  Islamist racism.

As one of Valls’s Ministers, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (Education), has said (only to have her comments brushed aside by the Prime Minister), the moves have “ libéraient la parole raciste” – opened the floodgates of racism.

L’Humanité meanwhile publishes this statement by Osez le féminisme !

Arrêtés anti-burkini : de qui se moque-t-on ? Des femmes pardi !

They comment that the affair is the product of a series of manoeuvres.

Une double manipulation est donc à l’oeuvre, qui stigmatise les femmes voilées. Manipulation des fabricants de vêtements de mode dite “pudique”, qui se frottent les mains, mais aussi de ceux pour qui le voile devrait être obligatoire pour les femmes musulmanes.  Mais aussi manipulation de ces édiles locaux (dont certains visiblement en manque de notoriété), qui, à défaut de faire des politiques sociales aptes à endiguer l’exclusion que vivent certains et certaines (l’exclusion sociale étant une trappe vers un repli sur soi communautaire), préfèrent s’attaquer à une catégorie de femmes, livrées à la vindicte raciste.

A twofold manipulation is at work which stigmatises veiled women. A manipulation by the manufacturers of “modest” clothing, busy rubbing their hands, and also by those who consider that veiling should be compulsory for Muslim woman. But it’s equally a manipulation by certain local elected figures (many of whom visibly seek public notoriety), who instead of offering social policies that help end the social isolation in which some women live (the trap of social exclusion which feeds inward looking communities) prefer to attack a category of women and leave them at the mercy of racism.  

See also: Stop state Islamophobia! No to the burkini ban (Nouveau parti anticapitaliste).

And:   Burkini et prétendues « crispations réciproques » : Quand le quotidien « Le Monde » raconte n’importe quoi. Yves C.

…il ne s’agit pas de défendre un signe religieux réactionnaire, le burkini, mais simplement de dénoncer la campagne politique menée par la droite et une partie de la gauche, campagne qui occulte les vrais problèmes des exploités et des exploitées en France aujourd’hui.

Defending a reactionary religious sign, the burkini, is not the issue. The point is to denounce a political campaign launched by the right, and a section of the left, a campaign which obscures the real problems of those exploited in France today. 

Le racisme, sous toutes ses formes, est le problème et la responsabilité de la majorité des « Français » titulaires d’une carte d’identité, électeurs du Front national, des Républicains ou des partis de la gauche xénophobe, pas celui d’une minorité obscurantiste de croyantes et de croyants. C’est contre ce racisme des dominants qu’il faut lutter, et de ces causes économiques, sociales et culturelles profondes qu’il faut discuter, pas de « tenues de plage » ou « tenues de ville » portées par telle ou telle minorité religieuse !

Racism, in all its forms, is the responsibility of the majority of the French, those with an identity card, Front National voters, Republicans and parties of the xenophobic left, not that of a minority of obscurantist believers. We have to fight against the racism of the dominant and discuss its fundamental economic, social and cultural causes, not the beach or urban dress codes of religious minorities. 


  * “Communautariste “: in this context “communitarian” is a highly ideologically charged  French concept (more than just a word). It can refer loosely to withdrawal into religious, ethnic or cultural identity, More critically it shades into the accusation of near ‘communalism’, the defence of separate social worlds at odds with one another. There is, for ‘ultra republicans’ and a strain of ‘left soveriegntists’ the  implication that ‘multiculturalism’, which promotes/tolerates such  separate identities is opposed to ‘republican’ unity.

Employé dans un sens plutôt péjoratif, le terme communautarisme désigne une forme d’ethnocentrisme ou de sociocentrisme qui donne à la communauté (ethnique, religieuse, culturelle, sociale, politique, mystique, sportive…) une valeur plus importante qu’à l’individu, avec une tendance au repli sur soi.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 25, 2016 at 10:46 am

12 Responses

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  1. Do they do flash-mob demonstrations in France? They could have such a lot of fun with this one, turning up on beaches wearing all sorts of outlandish garb and making a complete mockery of these bylaws… After all, mockery is the only appropriate response to politicians who imagine that getting sunburn is some kind of secularist duty.


    August 25, 2016 at 12:34 pm

  2. This is fucking ridiculous. Pardon my French. 😀


    August 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm

  3. Pantomime shares, not by coincidence, the same origin as the word “pantalonnade”.

    Andrew Coates

    August 25, 2016 at 4:55 pm

  4. There are perfectly valid reasons to object to the burkini – as there are to many other things which are not, and should not be, banned. But to describe it as ‘Salafist’ seems weird, although some of those who wear it may have a political agenda – thanks in part perhaps to these laique zealots. Some of those who adopt/adapt the burkini are not even wearing what conservative Muslims would consider proper hijab – bare necks etc https://www.buzzfeed.com/aishagani/flawless-burkinis-on-instagram?utm_term=.vw6DwdLj1#.wgAprzdlg
    (Mariem Akrout looks a bit like Audrey Hepburn).


    August 25, 2016 at 6:56 pm

  5. […] Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Burkini : “C’est une provocation”. […]

  6. There is, indeed, a danger that secular-democratic opposition to this authoritarian ban will be hi-jacked by Islamists and their apologists whose objective is to glorify and promote the ‘burkini’ :eg in the UK the pro-Islamist SWP and idiotic liberals, like the organisers of yesterday’s protest outside the French embassy, one of whom told the Guardian that the idea that the burkini is oppressive “needs to be turned on its head … a lot of women wear it by choice.” So that makes it OK, does it? Some US slaves opposed emancipation, too.

    A much better argument is put forward by Judith Woods in (of all places) the Telegraph, though misleadingly, the online version of her article has been given a headline that (wrongly) states she supports the ban:


    Jim Denham

    August 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm

  7. I appreciate the argument that certain Islamic dress codes can often signal oppressive messages to more liberally inclided women from an Islamic background (as an example, I used to work with a charity that provided advice to the long-term unemployed when I first moved to London and two niqab clad women used to harass the (Muslim) receptionist who was sporting a bit of “bad hijab” (exposing some hair)…turned out both the fundamentalist women were white, from Leeds and had only converted to Islam in the past two years…and were generally seen as a pain in the ass by the largely Muslim workforce). However, for many women from socially conservative backgrounds, the “Burkini” offers an opportunity to get out and experience beach life. If the choice is between such women being out-of-sight and out-of-mind or having a public presence, I’d choose the latter. The debate around **enforced** dress codes can carry on in parallel – but formulating laws against this would be difficult to formulate and enforce.

    alex ross

    August 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

  8. Local Mayors’ power – devolution – is over-ruled

    “The decision of the Council of State says, the “contested by-law has caused serious, and clearly illegal, harm to fundamental freedoms, such as the liberty of movement, freedom of conscience and personal freedom.”

    To be exact (le Monde) it says, “L’ordonnance du Conseil d’Etat précise également que « l’arrêté litigieux a ainsi porté une atteinte grave et manifestement illégale aux libertés fondamentales que sont la liberté d’aller et venir, la liberté de conscience et la liberté personnelle. »


    Andrew Coates

    August 26, 2016 at 4:18 pm

  9. The Ligue des droits de l’Homme seems to have a much more sensible line on all this nonsense than most of the politicians.



    August 26, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    • I have great admiration for the Ligu who are, Sarah, the same kind of laique as I am.

      The politicians pushing this ban are nationalists often ultra-Catholic.

      They have nothing to do with secularism.

      Andrew Coates

      August 27, 2016 at 10:22 am

  10. Andrew Coates

    August 27, 2016 at 11:15 am

  11. […] Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Burkini : “C’est une provocation”. […]

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