Ban on burkini morally right or wrong?
by bobsrob on September 12, 2016 - 12:19pm
Ban on burkini morally right or wrong?
In the News
In the British Newspaper the Guardian, an article was recently published Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 entitled “France’s burkini ban row divides government as court mulls legality”. The article attracted so much attention because of ethical and moral principles that represent two entirely different and opposing moral claims.
The purpose of this paper is to summarize and analyze the article, and to point out the opposing moral claims that demonstrate this issue to be a veritable ethical problem that is becoming a popular theme in a global debate.
France’s burkini ban row divides government as court mulls legality
The Guardian article shows and comments on photographs taken on the beach in Nice, France, of sunbathers in bathing suits looking on as 4 French policemen enforce a new town law that bans the wearing of burkinis on the beach following a recent jihadi terrorist attack in Nice that killed over 80 persons. The law has been passed to prevent civic unrest that has resulted in minor clashes between citizens and other citizens of Muslim origin since the Bastille Day celebration massacre in Nice, the south of France. The police officers were photographed possibly issuing a fine to a citizen on the beach and forcing the muslim woman to take some layers off, enforcing the new law prohibiting the outfit which was “ not respecting the notion of secularism in public “.
Several towns in France have adopted such new laws, however, these actions have caught the attention of human rights activists. The Human Rights League has launched an appeal to ban the ban. And a higher court decision may soon render the ban on Burkinis illegal. However the government defends their decision to stop people from overtly flaunting their religion in public places when the tension still remains so high because of recent and numerous terrorist attacks in the south of France (and in Paris).
The ethical problem
To recognize that an ethical problem exists, one has to determine what it is, and then argue for or against it. So the ethical problem would be, is it right or wrong morally to ban the wearing of religious garment in public. How dangerous to the public is wearing a burkini, for instance versus wearing a Samurai sword?
Moral value claim
The moral value claim approach would argue against the ban on birkini. Why should we force people to follow our norm or dress code? Maybe in their country of origin everybody wears the birkini to the beach, so for them it is a normal practice. So why should we make them uncomfortable? You cannot penalize someone for wearing too much clothing on a hot day. Does our culture have a moral right to dictate what someone’s practice or beliefs are? And how they should act and dress in society. Is it our business if what they wear is part of their religious belief?
Does our country have a moral right to make laws that push people to conform to our society’s culture? Relativism would argue that we have to be accepting of other people’s culture, even inside of our own culture. That many different cultures could co-exist peacefully in one society.
If co-existing in one society is constantly continuing to cause violence, the idea of relativism could be put aside to make way for World sanctioned equal rights to allow the same basic moral rights to govern over and apply to each and every country in the World.
Moral prescriptive claim
The moral prescriptive claim would argue in favor of the ban on burkinis, from a militant secular point of view. The municipalities of a number of French small beachside towns have set up new bylaws in the aftermath of the recent terrorist event which took place at a Bastille Day public beachside firework display in Nice killing over 80 innocent bystanders. The bylaw banning birkinis is said to be aimed at reducing public skirmishes that appear to start with verbal attacks directed at muslim citizens. Fear of public safety since the recent jihadi attacks in Nice, France appears to be causing a wave of this type of public backlash.
It would appear to be morally wrong to impose such a law. From a militant secular point of view, which says that the church should not dictate the governing of the state, and would therefore argue that it is unethical for a municipal town hall to put up a cross in the hallway. But the beach is not even a government institution, so surely this law does not even apply here and will eventually be deemed as illegal.
This type of topic remains a very delicate situation because public security as we know it is becoming a major risk factor in Paris, Bruxelles, Frankfurt and even Istanbul. But popular fear in a culture cannot be used as an excuse to make a morally wrong decision to impose a law preventing people from wearing their country of origins traditional garb because it may be offensive to others.
Quinn, Ben. "French Police Make Woman Remove Clothing on Nice Beach following Burkini Ban." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2016. Web. 9 Sept. 2016.
Burnor, Richard, and Yvonne Raley. Ethical Choices: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with Cases. New York: Oxford U, 2011. Print.
"Secularism." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.