GenderHuman Rights

The Burkini-Bikini False Equivalence and Your Disproportionate Outrage

What if I told you that you can condemn bans on the hijab while still acknowledging the very real and urgent mechanisms of coercion underlying it? FANCY THAT.

In this piece I present a two-part thesis:

I, a woman who was coerced into hijab from prepubescent childhood, for 15 years, wholly and unequivocally condemn the French burkini ban as oppressive and borderline fascist.

I am also disturbed and disheartened by the form that rhetoric condemning the burkini ban is taking in liberal media. It is narrow-sighted, dangerous, and strikes me as especially dissonant.

Prepare for some Big Thoughts. (Y’all know the hijab is kind of my obsessive subject, right?)

I: On the Burkini Ban, and Why It Is Not To Be Condoned

A cursory, non-comprehensive takedown

First, for the sake of steel-manning, let me grant proponents of the ban two assumptions (which I don’t entirely agree with as presented): One, Muslim modesty doctrine is inherently oppressive and restrictive to women. Two, condoning public embodiment of such doctrine is not in line with principles of Laicite.

So. Let’s pretend (lolsob) that I am one of these women directly victimized by the very regressive ideology of modesty being opposed here. I have a bit of freedom being allowed to go to a pool in a burkini by my restrictive and intolerant family and community. And you’re going to ban me from that??? Thereby making it so on top of all my other restrictions I can’t swim too?

Thanks, now I’m more isolated and limited than I was before. ‘Cause you’ve also made sure I can’t go to public school or university in my hijab. Well, I guess I’m confined at home now, because no hijab ban law is going to matter to my family who view hijab as a matter of mortal moral incumbency. So here I am stuck at home, unless my family is able and willing to put me in private schooling. And on top of that more forms of public presence are slowly being restricted from me as well.

But sure, ban me from the public in attempt to champion my rights. That will fix things.

Oh but maybe it’s not about me, for all the protestations that hijab is bad because it oppresses girls and women like me. It’s actually about France, about protecting secular culture and community from the taint of extremist religious ideology.

Well. Is facilitating further isolation and insularity of Muslim communities conducive to that goal? If Muslim communities are expected to shape up and deal critically with their own issues of violence and extremism as a matter of civic responsibility, would restricting them from access to public facilities and tools help that?

Even if people within those communities themselves are open and enthusiastic and passionate about the same goals?

If I had been born into the same exact family but we lived in France, all my willingness and desire and affinity to break out of my conservative community into a mainstream secular culture and/or help guide my community thereto, reduce its insularity and increase awareness and tolerance therein– would they have been enough to overcome such restrictions? If I’m not educated, if I’m confined further to my home by these laws, how do I help make the changes compatible with secular culture in my community? How could I do half of what I do now?

How does a voice like mine join the discourse?

(I’ll spare you my own painful story of being banned from swimming in a pool with my class on a Saudi compound in my burkini, how lasting the humiliation and exclusion I felt before peers I desperately wanted to relate to.)

II: On The Burkini-Bikini False Equivalence, and Why It Is So Terrible

Okay, actually the Hijab-Bikini False Equivalence but I liked the alliteration

For perhaps the hundredth time, I see this (I’m sure well-meaning but terribly infuriating) comic making the rounds:


Original source:

And though I’ve seen it a hundred times (and seen the hijab compared to western beauty standards a thousand times), it still manages to knock the breath out of me with how severe and audacious a false equivalence it is.

In short, this is how thoroughly they are not the same:

When a woman’s community acceptance, respect, dignity, employability, marriagiability, physical safety, enfranchisement, social mobility, access to social institutions, freedom, and autonomy hinge upon her daily, unwavering, public adherence to the bikini, then we can make this comparison.

When a woman cannot leave her home in anything other than a bikini without being deemed immoral and her human worth and family’s honor compromised, then we can make this comparison.

When there are severe legal, social, and extrajudicial forces holding a woman’s safety, wellbeing, and livelihood hostage to her adherence to the bikini, then we can make this comparison.

(It should go without saying that some or all of the above systemic constraints manifest with variance across diverse Muslim communities.)

It’s a slap in the face, so hurtful and insulting a comparison it makes it hard for me to breathe looking at it.

Let me address the most common equivocation regarding the above.

It goes something like, well context is important.  While it is probably not fair to compare these on a global level, women are not made to cover in the West like this, see [insert plethora of counterexamples].

It is honestly a bit confusing to me, this idea that prominent examples of women vocally and visibly defending their adherence to hijab in a certain community can act AS EVIDENCE that hijab is not coerced in that context.

Because pointing to visible examples of positive, willing adherence to the hijab does not and cannot speak to what happens in the case of dissent.

Sanctioned modesty is very, very much a pressing and relevant issue in Muslim communities in the West. Women suffering from this are largely invisible, closeted, and unheard, and unfortunately unless one is immersed in the problem, or has access to safe ex-Muslim or reformist Muslim spaces, one is not liable be exposed to this problem, its mechanics, to understand how deep it runs. The Muslim women who have visibility and whose voices are elevated and endorsed by their communities? They are not the ones dissenting to their community’s norms. Is that not intuitive?

I don’t know what people mean or understand by “coercion,” but positive adherence to modesty doctrine does not negate the presence of constraint.

Further to that, positive adherence to modesty doctrine in the presence of social sanction and encouragement is only to be expected.  Conforming to an extant social norm and feeling free and empowered to do so is not only entirely possible in the presence of systemic constraint, but encouraged and enabled by it. Especially if it is adherence within a fold that has no truck with outsiders (eg particularly insular communities).

Because while those who choose to conform are visible, those who are not free to dissent are not.

Looking at the woman who insists she wasn’t made to conform tells you nothing about the woman who didn’t want to conform, and hasn’t anything resembling the visibility to say so.

III: On the Injustice of Disproportionate Outrage to the Burkini Ban

Or,  climbing on the backs of millions of Muslim women in service of anti-racism

Source: Khartoon! By Khalid Albaih

This is a bit tricky for me. I generally dislike social epistemic norms like “you can’t talk about x without also talking about y”.

For instance: “you can’t talk about the oppression of Muslim women without talking about Western imperialism [spoiler alert: yes you can, and, indeed, you must- I’ma blog about this soon]” or “you can’t talk about child abuse and misogyny in PoC communities without talking about poverty and racism.”

I think ‘you can’t talk about x without talking about y’ is a bad epistemic heuristic because it largely carries an always-already assumption that the factors of the latter are necessarily relevant to discussion of the former, and/or an assumption that discussion of the latter will not damage or obscure or take away from discussion of the former, but rather enhance it.

Or even an assumption that the latter is the more pressing problem (eg the misconception that anti-Muslim bigotry–not misogyny, not FGM, not honor violence, not homophobiia– is the only or most pressing problem of oppression plaguing Muslim communities in the West today).

These are assumptions that do not always actually play out.

In this case however…

When I see disproportionate outrage about a minority of women from Muslim communities in France subjected to clothing policing in certain contexts vs equivocation (with a background soundtrack of crickets) about the millions of women subjected to clothing policing globally in the general public in Muslim majority countries and communities,

and when I see rhetoric about the former being used to obscure and deny and minimize mechanics of oppression regarding the latter,

I’m kind of feeling favorably about this sentiment, that it’s unjust to talk about the former without acknowledging the latter.

Because liberal discourse has tended to uncritically sanitize the hijab by effectively stripping it of its social and cultural context.

To take it even further, I find even juxtapositions giving fair measure to both hijab coercion and hijab bans to be insufficient (like the above cartoon by Khalid Albaih depicting two converse horrific human rights violations, in France and Iran respectively).

Look at these two examples, side by side. Look at them. Think about what each represents, the urgency, scale, and credence given to it.

We should feel so lucky that they’re given “equal” consideration, representation side by side.

On the right we have represented the  grand collective of millions of women across dozens of countries and ethnicities whose modesty is policed in incredibly complex and diverse ways (legislative social extrajudicial institutional familial capitalistic sectarian political) that extends to all forms of public presence (as hijab is largely permanent public garb) and that affects matters of basic living (physical safety, education, emotional damage, enfranchisement, mobility, dignity, standing, marriagiability, employability).

And on the left? We have represented one of the few (but unequivocally wrong) instances of converse oppression, manifesting with one type of enforcement (legal) that extends to some forms of public presence (the beach, public educational institutions, civil employment) and largely affects emotional damage and access to public education, government employment, and the beach.

Yet even that one-to-one acknowledgment seems beyond progressive discourse today.

IV: The Awful Marriage of Burkini False Equivalences and Condemnations of the Burkini Ban

Or, trivializing the harm of modesty doctrine in attempt to defend those who adhere to it.

(If your thoughts right now are along the line of it’s not a competition! and there’s no hierarchy of oppression!, this section is for you :))

By Michael Leunig:


The burkini ban is ridiculous and bad. This I agree on, unequivocally. My reasoning for this boils down to it defeats its own purpose by only isolating a marginalized group further, and policing the clothing of others is bad On Principle because it violates bodily autonomy. 

The former argument may or may not be ideologically convincing (it assumes one holds a principle such as things that isolate marginalized groups should not be legally sanctioned or the burkini ban was conceived at least in part in service of oppressed Muslim women). The latter though? The latter should be a sufficient argument per force in condemnation of a ban as oppressive. Policing bodily conduct is oppressive (how I believe this is never justified pertaining to the hijab in particular is explicated here); therefore the burkini ban is oppressive.

And yet, liberal rhetoric condemning the ban seems to find it necessary to sanitize and defend hijab itself in order to oppose banning it.

Rhetoric that paints the notion that hijab can be oppressive to be some kind of unhinged, laughable racism, that again makes facile comparisons to forms of Western dress, implying that the notion of oppressive hijab is either as trivial or as hyperbolic as that of oppressive business suits or bikinis.

The implication that, again, the notion of hijab as oppressive is a terrible myth, driven by un-self-conscious double standards between how Western cultural artifacts like bikinis and ties are viewed and how hijabs and niqabs are viewed (there are un-self-conscious double standards at play here– but, sheer irony, they are basically the inverse of these).

So the above comic. Look at it properly, the ‘Business Burka.’ It’s not even about gendered expectations that objectify anymore– it’s even a more feeble and faulty false equivalence than the bikini, and for what? to make a terribly specious point (it’s ridiculous to be afraid of women in burkinis) that erases the dynamics of oppression inherent in normative modesty doctrine?
I do not deserve this. We do not deserve this.  There is no necessity, no, tradeoff, here. Because:

DID YOU KNOW THAT you can condemn a ban on a mode of dress while SIMULTANEOUSLY acknowledging the presence of systemic constraints enforcing that dress, with their full gravity and ideological context?

DID YOU KNOW THAT you can acknowledge mechanics of oppression surrounding how a mode of dress is sanctioned and enforced while CONSISTENTLY condemning a ban on that mode of dress?

I’m gonna turn this damn favorite analogy of everybody’s around.

Oh, women are pressured/socialized to adhere to feminine beauty standards in the West! Or–men have to wear ties and collars to make it in the workplace in the West! And wearing hijab is no different, just the normalized presentation of a different culture!

Okay… let’s assume they’re actually comparable for half a second.

If somebody wanted to ban bikinis tomorrow, could you not BOTH condemn such a ban as borderline fascist and oppressive WITHOUT DISCOUNTING the ways women are limited and pressured about the beauty standards embodied in The Bikini?

Like, do those just fly out the window? Nah, they don’t. You know they don’t.

And the thing is, those pressures and expectations, they’re NOTHING compared to the severity and extent of institutionalized constraint surrounding Muslim modesty doctrines globally.

I mean, setting aside mechanisms of enforcement (legislative, social, extrajudicial etc), the very nature of modesty doctrine as 1) extending to all forms of public presence, 2) as morally normative, and 3) as placed in honor cultures (communal societies where family honor, which hinges absolutely upon female modesty, is the most basic social currency), puts it in a rather different ballpark than ‘expectations and pressures.’

And you know, for all progressive discourse appeals to concepts such as ‘there is no hierarchy of oppression! women having it WORSE elsewhere does not make our commentary on beauty standards invalid!’,

for all they do that and make noise about anyone objecting to a Comprehensive Feminism that talks about everything down to the limited range of makeup and hosiery available for Women of Color as a Legitimate Intersectional Feminist Issue,

it strikes me as especially dissonant that every shade of particularity re gendered Western cultural artifacts Legit Deserves Its Own Thinkpiece,

while there needs to be a battle for representation over the very QUESTION of whether there are mechanics of oppression underlying the hijab, which is SO MUCH MORE PRESSING an issue than that of like, makeup brands or whether it’s appropriative to belly dance if you’re white (seriously?!).

Sometimes I feel like ‘there is no hierarchy of oppression’ is a principle that serves only those whose oppression does not lack relative focus to begin with.

In fact, it sounds suspiciously like All Lives Matter to me. Not in theory, but in application.

‘Cause while there is no hierarchy of oppression and valid issues are valid no matter how relatively ‘small,’ there sure as hell is an extant hierarchy of representation.

Perhaps this is a pat and bitter metaphor, but the discourse allocates space to stuff like appropriating clothing and the harm of beauty standards and gendered workplace expectations the way makeup stores allocate space to foundation and hosiery in various shades of ‘nude’. And millions of women whose physical safety and agency and livelihood and mobility and freedom is on the line get the tiny corner with more ‘exotic’ shades.

‘There is no hierarchy of oppression’ is only truly applicable in a utopia of resources.

And seriously? I’m over it. Fuck the idea that there is endless space to talk about things and everything deserves its own focus.

We do not have fucking unlimited resources, and if you think there’s PLENTY of space in the discourse to go around, maybe it’s because you’ve always found it for your white western feminist issues or anti-racist issues or whatever, oblivious to how there ISN’T space for other things that, frankly, yes, are more pressing. The space you take up, and what it pushes out is definitely invisible to you– this is why I am trying to highlight it.

But is it also immaterial to you?

We live in a real world and we cannot pretend like we must not practically prioritize because it is not justified to ideologically prioritize.

And frankly, if you have been very concerned with championing the rights of Muslim women in France but do not also talk about the rights of Muslim women regarding modesty doctrine, FGM, honor crime, arranged marriages, etc etc, then you do no service to women from Muslim backgrounds.

If you care about the hijabi who is publicly attacked or restricted for her hijab in the West but not about the hijabi in the West who is beaten by her father who caught her texting a boy in her class, then you do no service to women from Muslim backgrounds.

Your anti-racism fails in its purpose, and I and women like me are hard put to forgive you for the collateral damage, invisible to you perhaps, but falling heavy on our shoulders, the shoulders of the most silenced and marginalized in the Muslim world.

– Hiba Krisht

PS: Because I anticipate responses that address ‘save the brown women’ narratives and ‘what about positionality’, note that more complex issues of positionality, representation, narrative hegeomony, and how outsiders can ‘do things right’, re this issue are addressed here.

~     ~     ~

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  • Jude James

    The suit cartoon credit should goto

    • nietzschesbreeches

      changed, thanks muchly!

  • Martine Frampton

    Thank you for your post, it was a very complex argument making a lot of points but I felt like I learned something from it

    • nietzschesbreeches

      thank you for taking the time to read and listen.

  • Marie Pace

    Hi, and thanks for a powerful and well thought out post, it makes a nice change from the hysteria filled pages I have seen over the last few days.

    I agree with most of it, in fact all of it except one point which I feel needs addressing, and it’s the first paragraph, and I don’t even disagree with it as such, I just don’t know what the answer is. Maybe the response from the French mayors is wrong, but faced with that creeping increase in women’s oppression, what is the solution? Yes, it is a knee jerk reaction, but it is also indicative of a line being drawn in the sand in a country where secularism should trump all, and which has seen their secularist tolerance being impeded, gnawed at, abused bit by bit.

    The France I grew up in and lived in 30 years ago didn’t have that problem. Muslim girls and women lived without covering up any more than their non Muslim counterparts. We went swimming to please together, we all wore tight shorts and short skirts, crop tops, and no-one blinked an eye, and I cannot think of circumstances where a amnesty would have dared tell them to be more modest (now there’s a word I could write paragraphs about!). They followed or didn’t follow Ramadan, they drank alcohol or ate pork, and some didn’t… they were Muslims like most people are Christians who go to Mass once a year, it’s what they were born into, not something which shaped every moment of their lives.

    The regression we see now is, I feel, symptomatic of a much, much deeper malaise in our society, and in France, the largest european Muslim community, it has now reached a level where the French authorities feel they must rein in the blatant abuse of religious display. The problem,as ever, is that it’s the women who suffer, stuck in the middle.

    Like I said, I don’t know what the solution is.

    • Ace_of_Sevens

      An easy way to report child and domestic abuse and a government that takes investigating them seriously. (This would help lots of Westerners, too.) Burkini bans are worse than doing nothing.

  • American LoneWolf

    Good points, but the article makes no mention of the notion that perhaps the French do not WANT the Muslim population to integrate and become part of their community, due to fear, be it rational or not. I think one must consider that a large portion of the French people would prefer to keep Muslims locked indoors and not at their beaches, in the hopes that they can either a) be forgotten, or b) go back to whence they came. While this seems like a bad approach to you and I, to the people in favor of this law it is likely the prime rationale. And nothing in this article combats that intolerant sentiment. This sort of anti-Muslim legislation is going to be appearing all over Europe with more and more frequency, and the root causes are not being explored–even here. As Marie Pace noted, everything you wrote is brilliant and correct, but oddly, perhaps not even relevant to the root of the problem that plagues all of humanity: how to get along with people who look different from you and your friends.

  • Libbie Hawker

    Wow. Excellent article. You put into words exactly what I was feeling about this issue, but didn’t know how to express (possibly because I haven’t lived through the same kind of oppression you face.)

  • Nisha

    There is another option, harder and requiring more bravery in her theoretical question of what she can do, which is leave her religion. Which you ended up doing. The women have options, they are not just passive victims which your rhetorical questions seem to portray.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      As if leaving the fold of a system like this merely requires bravery, or the willingness to do something hard. Of course it’s hard, of course it requires bravery. But those are not panaceas, and the point is *precisely* that people don’t have enough effective options, and not enough is being done about it. It is *you* who are insulting the agency and abilities of the women in question by thinking it’s just a matter of taking a brave step, as if we don’t already do what we can with the resources we have.

      You want to know what it took for me to leave my religion? And take my hijab off? The hijab that i tried to take off in school once, when i was a child of 13, and was beaten bloody and confined to a closet for? You really want to know? Aside from losing the only community and family I have ever known, having to find a way to move halfway across the world, being in perpetual exile from my country? Being totally alone without a social safety net and with terribly poor health due to the years of trauma I’ve sustained? Well, before all of that, it took living a deeply dangerous closeted double life ,carefully planning my escape for five years after my initial attempt to leave home at 18 and chart my own path ended up with Hezbollah tracking me down and dragging me home, my being imprisoned and interrogated and tortured, then confined to my father’s home for the better part of the next year. In a country where I need paternal permission to leave the airport, where domestic violence was not criminalzied and there are articles in our penal code reducing sentences or granting pardons for crimes of honor? Where community modesty policing is so intense in southern Shiite villagees that women walking down teh street at night or deemed dressed inappropriatedly are picked up by Hezbollah members and taken back to their husbands or fathers homes? And it was only because I had certain measures of privilege most of the women around me do not. I was one of the LUCKY ones. I had the class background to have built a solid education, a foreign citizenship that means not having to suffer through arduous visa processes or seek asylum, both of which can take years, a fluke of legislature that had my Palestinian father naturalized as Lebanese when i was about 6, so I wasn’t treated like a second -class citizen and had access to social institutions, because women in my country cannot pass their nationality on, so my Lebanese mother could do nothing for me. I was one of the LUCKY ones. Take a second to process that.

      And that’s just *my* story. You want to know what the hundreds of other ex-Muslim women I’m connected to in North America today had to go through for their apostasy? to gain the lives they have now, and at what terrible costs? how many were shipped off home for arranged marriages as minors? how many of them are stuck in marriages with children who they have to think about first? or are financially dependent and would be excommunicated and essentially homeless if they don’t hold their apostasy secret until they can graduate and go on their own? how many have been atheists for years but still must wear the hijab and suffer severe repercussions or lose their homes and families? Or women who work part-time in secret to save up to escape, putting themselves in real danger should they be found out? Or older women whose husbands have always abused them but because of the patriarchal family structure they’ve been socialized into and because of Islamic laws surrounding divorce and inheritance, they would be penniless, with zero assets or work experience or social standing, with ailing health and no access to healthcare? would you begrudge them their very NOT PASSIVE decisions to remain ‘victims’ because it means having a home and healthcare and the dignity of your own space and possessions, at least? because those ARE the best options they have? Or the women whose stories are told here, these women: they simply not BRAVE enough or willing enough to do a hard thing?!

      But sure, go ahead and tell me that there is another option, like it’s that simple.

      If you think acknowledging that women are subject to systemic constraints means that they are then passive victims, that’s your own fallacy. Do not project it onto me, onto us. Heaven forbid we acknowledge what we have to contend with, try to raise awareness about it without hopign to be BLAMED for not somehow doing more for ourselves. I almost DIED to leave Islam, and I lost almost everything to do so. These women have more dire needs than you can imagine, and are more brave and resourceful int he face of incredible loss than you know.

      Or did you think there is so much stigma and fear surrounding apostasy for nothing? You think people can just up and decide to live how they want when they want to, never mind everything they will lose, the cost-benefit analysis for them, the tradeoffs? Of course they have agency, of course they have to make difficult choices within limited confines. That is precisely the opposite of passivity. Here is a post in which I lay out scenario after scenario after scenario in which a woman makes an agential, active choice to continue to wear hijab for VERY GOOD REASONS,, based on what i’ve seen and the stories of other women i know:

      And if you’d like a really detailed picture of what some of us have to contend with, here’s my story in detail:

      • Marie Pace

        Hi, the link higher up: “Or the women whose stories are told here, these women: http://exhijabifashion.tumblr…. ” doesn’t seem to work.

        • nietzschesbreeches

          fixed. i think 😛

  • Acitta

    As an atheist, I do not accept any religious doctrine that demands that one wear a particular type of garment or headgear. However, to me, the main issue is it legitimate for the state to regulate what people wear? If it is wrong for the government of Iran or Saudi Arabia to regulate women’s mode of dress, then it is wrong for France to do the same thing. If Muslim women are being oppressed by misogynist religious strictures, how does fining or arresting them solve that problem? It seems to me that you are just adding more oppression, not taking it away. Why aren’t their alleged oppressors being fined or arrested? Why is it that only Muslim women are being sanctioned? There are other religions that regulate dress. I notice that no one is demanding that Old Order Mennonite women stop wearing bonnets or insisting that Haredi men dress more colourfully. In Canada, any regulations like those in France would not fly. It would not be legally acceptable under our constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Using the force of law to try to change religious or cultural behaviour will not work. It will not cause people to moderate their religious strictures, much less cause them to give up religious superstition entirely. It will just cause these groups to feel more insular and separate from the society at large. The solution to these problems is not to isolate these people more, but to provide opportunity for people of different cultures and belief systems to mix more in the public square so that people learn from one another and are exposed to different ideas. Religious people will not give up their irrational beliefs overnight. It will take time, but it will only happen if these people are kept from being isolated from society at large. It is important for all of us to pay attention to our similarities more than our differences.

    • aliceblue

      If it were not for the fact that most agnostics and atheists I know (I’m Christian myself) are decent people, I would imagine this situation would give them (and you) a bit of a laugh. After all, this is about people fearing that the radical/extreme/fundamentalist Muslims will, via a combination of violent threats and legislation, force their rules upon everyone else. Ironically this is exactly what the fundamentalist/radical Christians have been doing since there have been such Christians. Apparently it isn’t as much fun when seen from the other side!

  • aliceblue

    This is fantastic, the logical arguments, the cartoons, ALL. I am a feminist, I detest how patriarchal religious practices seem more devoted to controlling women than worshiping a supreme being. However, I’ve actually read people saying that making that armed men forcing that woman to disrobe promoted freedom for women!!!
    This paragraph in particular is wonderful. this concept of further isolating women who already may have many limitation upon them is what I’ve been trying to say, yet people just look at me like I’m speaking Martian. Perhaps I’ll just keep copies of your article to hand out?
    “Thanks, now I’m more isolated and limited than I was before. ‘Cause you’ve also made sure I can’t go to public school or university in my hijab. Well, I guess I’m confined at home now, because no hijab ban law is going to matter to my family who view hijab as a matter of mortal moral incumbency. So here I am stuck at home, unless my family is able and willing to put me in private schooling. And on top of that more forms of public presence are slowly being restricted from me as well.”

  • peeetor

    Thankyou for this, it articulated very well the intuition I had as well as adding 100x as much context and from a perspective I don’t hear enough from.

  • MaiaDoe

    The other way round – specific permit for wearing hijab / burkini.

    There is a card for being present in a train, there can be a card for wearing hijab. And if you want it, you have to prove that you were born in a conservative family or that you recently immigrated from a conservative country. IMO totally simple.