If there was a buzzword from last summer then it was surely ‘burkini’. The media got its swimsuit in a twist over France’s decision to ban the Islamic garment from its beaches. Slow-witted Anglophone columnists – many of whom have a curious predilection for insulting the French – lapped it up and enthusiastically portrayed Islam as the victim of Gallic oppression.
Those trusty custodians of liberal values, the Guardian and the New York Times, got particularly worked up, the former declaring in an editorial that ‘women’s right to dress as they feel comfortable and fitting should be defended against those coercing them into either covering or uncovering.’ The New York Times quoted Marwan Muhammad, executive director of the Collective Against Islamophobia (an organisation which Gilles Kepel, France’s foremost expert on Islamism, has claimed is intended to create a ‘strategy of conquest’ within France). He said the appearance of the burkini was ‘good news’. ‘It means Muslim women who didn’t use to enjoy that day at the beach or at the pool are now taking part, they are socialising.’