This whole issue is picayune and intolerant.
I don't think it's either, and least of all picayune.
There are a few possible explanations for the ban, and none have anything to do with a communal sense of what or what is not "decent" or "appropriate."
1) Public officials are concerned about the level of tension between Muslims and non-Muslims in their communities and wish to head off ugly scenes before they develop. This may be the ostensible reason of public officials, but I don't really buy it.
2) Public officials are trying to exploit the level of tension between Muslims and non-Muslims by being seen as, in some way, cracking down
on blatant expressions of Muslim culture. This is the reason I would bet on.
3) Public officials are themselves antagonistic towards Muslims and regardless of what the public thinks, they intend to use their power to, in some way, punish Muslims. I think this is the least likely since few politicians are going to advance personal agendas that have no support among the public.
Within #2 and, to a greater extent, #3 there is an element of intolerance, but alone I doubt that's the reason.
At times, in this thread, we have seen attempts to explain the ban in ways that make it seem picayune, but there are too many examples of non-Muslim garb that are similarly extreme but have not been banned, to ignore the Muslim connection. Attributing it to peculiar and arcane restrictions and the enforcement of same by anal-retentive bureaucrats, seems, to me, to miss the mark by a mile.
It clearly is a measure that has been specifically directed towards Muslims.
Not to excuse it, because I think it is wrong-headed and unfair, but the tension between Muslims and non-Muslims in some European countries is at a greater level than it is here in the US and so what might seem silly here can take on greater significance there.
While we have had isolated incidents of Islamist terrorism, places like France and Belgium have had organized, concerted attacks. More importantly, irrespective of terrorist attacks, quite a few European nations have faced ongoing and serious problems associated with either their Muslim communities or Muslim immigrants. (Sexual abuse and attacks being the major one)
This is not to say that Muslims in Europe are all running around groping and raping non-Muslim women, but it doesn't take too many incidents like the New Year's Eve sexual assaults by young Muslim men in Cologne to make people fearful, anxious, and very angry. Add to this numerous minor, by comparison, incidents of Muslim cab drivers refusing to pick up fares they believe to have been drinking, verbal assaults against women perceived to be dressed immodestly and so on, and the likelihood of real tension between Muslim and non-Muslims communities is understandable.
It's probably safe to say that there has been exaggeration of the problem as well as minimization, but the public's sense that there is a problem doesn't require a plethora of proven facts.
Here in the US we don't have the same problem. Without a doubt there are some Americans who irrationally hate all Muslims, but the average guy on the street isn't having his or her tolerance repeatedly tested by headlines about the actions of members of our Muslim communities.
There are all sorts of reasons why the situation is so different, but it is and where a ban on burkinis would indeed seem picayune here, it is less so in Europe. Politicians in the US have exploited fear of Muslims, far more on the basis of terrorist attacks than cultural assault.
Banning burkinis is not a means to protect Europeans at the beach from terrorists, it is a means to reassert a perceived European culture. It's obviously not a means to protect the sensibilities of reserved or cloistered Europeans. It's not a bizarre means of enforcing conformity. It's a means to tell Muslims that they must get in line
, and become more European
I really doubt that politicians in several municipalities are all acting solely on their own prejudice and intolerance. They make a living by feeling the pulse of the people and that feeling is, I believe, telling them that a burkini ban (as silly as it may seem) is something that will be welcomed by enough voters to make a difference in the next election.
This has been coming for a while now. Overall, Europeans have been extremely tolerant of Muslims citizens and immigrants, and, quite possibly, to a fault. Immigration can and has been a boon to nations across the globe, but in order for it to be a positive force on the receiving nation, there must be a certain degree of cultural assimilation by those who are seeking a new home. The European model of multi-culturalism has accepted a degree of assimilation that is insufficient for the health of its societies.
At the same time, the realities of economics and, to some extent, the reason why immigration from Muslim nations has been encouraged (cheap labor intended to prop up the costs of an aging and entitled native populace), has created an environment for many immigrants that is not only not likely to encourage assimilation, but likely to breed discontent and resentment.
As with most social problems there is no one party or group solely responsible and the attempted solutions tend to be heavy handed, rather than surgical. If the problem isn't solved there remains a boiling, bubbling pot on society's stove. Every now and then the contents spill over and make a mess, but if the messes increase in number and size, the threat is that the pot will boil over completely and start a fire that might burn the whole house down.
Right now the pot is boiling boiling pretty fiercely but it's contained. Fortunately the run of terrorist attacks that Europe suffered seems to have abated a bit, but another one could happen tomorrow; followed by an even longer series of worse follow-up incidents. Let's hope there are no more attacks, but how likely is that to be the case? With each new one fear, anxiety and anger grow, and there will always be politicians prepared to exploit such emotions for their personal gain.
It's important, I think, to note that these exploitative politicians are not limited to non-Muslims. There are people within the Muslim communities who are not only quite prepared to exploit the fear, anxiety and anger of their fellow Muslims, but also willing and able to ignite and fan the flames that create them.
What the Islamist leaders seek is not a long list of dead infidels. If that were the case they would care a lot more than they do about the number of Muslims who die in their attacks.
They're certainly not waging anything like a conventional war where something akin to a decisive battle is fought and their enemy surrenders.
They are seeking to create fear, anxiety and anger among all parties, infidels and Muslims alike. They want the pot to boil over and burn down the house. They want a backlash against Muslims to occur. They want authoritarians to gain power throughout Europe and begin to strip away liberty in the name of security. They want chaos and fighting in the streets, because it is the only way possible for them to achieve their goal.
I don't see them emerging from the chaos and the ruins they create, but megalomaniacs always overestimate their abilities, their luck or their divine guidance, and what other way do they have? ISIS tanks are not going to be rumbling down the streets of Paris the way German Panzers did in 1940. The only way they can possibly defeat the West is to destroy it from within or, more accurately, to have the West destroy itself.
In a perverse way this is a good thing for the West. Unless and until they can be stopped terrorist attacks will continue and the sort of sharp pendulum swing I've described will probably happen, but if they were less immersed in bloody visions of violence and death they might be able to chart a path to their goal that relied on demographics not violence, political maneuvering and deceit; not bombs. With patience and skill they could eventually remake Europe, but to achieve that end would possibly take longer than any of them have left to live, and it wouldn't satisfy their bloodlust.
Look at the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They almost pulled it off. They almost achieved through patient political maneuvering and the occasional violent catalysts what Osama bin Laden never could and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi never will. However Mohamed Morsi and the Brotherhood couldn't maintain their patience, they wouldn't do what it would have taken to come to some means of sharing power with their most hated enemies, the Egyptian generals, at least on a temporary basis while they outmaneuvered them politically. They had a taste of power and they wanted the whole pie to themselves.
An example of how it can work is Turkey. A far more secular society than Egypt's, with infinitely more of a connection to the West, but a nation where the military had the same history of political dominance as Egypt's. Erdogan, however, is a vastly more skilled politician than was Morsi and his party the Islamist AKP didn't have the same enmity, deeply rooted in a existential struggle, for the Turkish military, despite the fact that they outlawed his Welfare Party in 1998 and imprisoned him (albeit for only 4 months).
Erdogan, worked with and contained the power of the military with, ironically, the help of Fethullah Gülen, whom he now accuses of being the leader of the recent, failed military coup. The coup has worked so much in favor of solidifying Erdogan's power that it certainly seems possible that it was staged by him and never had a chance of succeeding. Since the coup he has purged the military of supposed Gulen supporters and cracked down even harder on Turkey's press. Continued movement towards a more definitively Islamist state seems all but certain.
Turkey may be more European than Egypt or any Arab state, but it's never been solely or even mostly within the West, however with time, fecundity, and continued waves of immigration (including refugees from war torn Muslim states) the demographics of one or more European nations could change enough to allow for the peaceful
rise to power of an Islamist. A long shot perhaps, but possible.
Victory through the current war
being waged on European nations by Islamists is, on the other hand, impossible in my view, although it is likely to cause enough continued and increased fear, anxiety and anger to lead to more moves like the Burkini Bans, and quite possibly some that are more serious and extreme.