Burqini: Forget the Bikini here's the answer to your Muslim beach wear dilemmas.
Submitted by bagelblogger on Tue, 2007-01-16 15:01. ::
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Bagelblogger: After the recent fiasco with the Australian Mufti who called un- covered women trays of meat, its quite refreshing to see that some Muslim women won't allow bigoted narrow minded Mufti's from stopping them from having a good time.
a lycra revolution, a cover-all swimming costume is bringing Muslim women on to Australian beaches as lifeguards, unzipping racial tensions which divided parts of Sydney little over a year ago.
The two-piece "burqini", popular in the Middle East, is proving key to a reshaping surf lifesaving - once a bastion of white Australian culture and still a heartland of the country's sun-bronzed, heroic self-myth.
"I am Australian so I always have the Australian life style, but now with the burqini it just allowed me to participate in it more. We used to always go to the beach, but now that I have the burqini I can actually swim," said Mecca Laalaa, 22.
Laalaa is one of 24 young Australians of Arab heritage who recently signed up to a 10-week training course run by Surf Life Saving Australia aimed at widening the racial mix on beaches.
The shift follows race riots between ethnic Lebanese Australians and white Australian youths at Cronulla Beach in Sydney's south in the lead-up to Christmas in 2005.
Cars, shops and churches were damaged in the violence, which followed an attack on a pair of white Australian beach lifeguards.
Laalaa, whose ethnic background is Lebanese-Australian, is relying on a home-grown burqini - a compromise between a burqa and a bikini - to keep her covered on Cronulla's sands.
The full-length lycra suit with hijab head-covering is not too figure hugging to embarrass, but is tight enough to allow its wearer to swim freely. It will soon be manufactured in the iconic red and yellow of Australia's surf life saving movement.
"We are surrounded by water all over Australia, it is totally encouraged for us from all the schools, no matter what school you go to," burqini manufacturer Aheda Zanetti said.
"So when these girls decide and choose to wear the veil, they decide to stop doing that. We didn't want to do that."
The burqini is making its appearance during the 100th anniversary of surf life saving in Australia, which began on Sydney's famous Bondi Beach and has grown to count 115,000 volunteers in more than 300 clubs.
Women were only allowed membership in 1980 and some clubs patrol inland lakes, including Lake Jindabyne near the snow-capped southern Australian Alps.
Zanetti, who sells her burqinis for up to $A200, hopes to widen the garment's appeal beyond Muslim women at the beach.
"We are also encouraged in Australia to cover up not due to modesty but for sun protection, so this is not just a modesty aspect swimming suit, it is also a protection against the sun, surf and sand," she said.
Its interesting to draw some parallels between this form of Swimwear and that which was popular at the turn of the 19th century. Essentially during the prudish times of the Victorian era the major theme in women's swim wear was covering the body.
Victorian ladies at the beach
When we look back on the swimming out fits from the turn of the twentieth century we often find amusement in how awkward and impractical those outfits were.
It is with some irony that I observe all the publicity going on in Australia about this new 'Burqini', is it really ground breaking? Or is it just Swimwear fashion from Victorian times revisited?
I've never understood women's fashion, and its cyclic seasons. It seems if you keep anything long enough it will one day be that ' groovy outfit' again.
There's an interesting political slant being spun on this latest development. After the Australian Cronulla riots only last summer, there was a lot of inter racial tension between Lebanese Muslims and Anglo Saxon Australians. Part of the tension was accusations of Lebanese youths intimidating locals at the beach, the counter argument was accusations of intolerance.
The Australia government has been calling for more tolerance from the Anglo Saxon Australian community and greater integration, co operation and acknowledgement of their Australian Identity from Lebanese Muslims. There has been a project of introducing Lebanese Muslims into Lifesaving at and near Cronulla beach. Lifesaving is not normally a sport that Lebanese Muslims would readily identify with.
It's interesting that this Burqini design is being portrayed as a avenue for Muslim girls to participate in Lifesaving. Of course this also appeases critics that criticize Lebanese Muslims for their lack of adoption of Australian identities and willingness to integrate into the Australian Community at large.
The real truth be known, its great to see Muslim women having the chance at actually swimming whilst at the beach, but to read this as a great mending of the cultural divide is simply political dexterity gone mad.
The divide exists, and shall exist as long as Radical and Fundamentalists Muslims take center stage and more moderate Muslims maintain their willingness to avoid criticizing what is wrong with extremism.
That extremism exists in non Muslim C society is not debated, but few would argue that they are at least not ostracized by the greater Australian community.
www.israelated.com/node/6967 (external - login to view)
An Australian answer to there muslim problem