An open letter from one Muslim woman to the French police in Nice, France

Dear Sirs,

The weather in Nice looks lovely today. You boast a temperature of 25C or 77F, with humidity at 74%. That would be a little too hot in any other city, but I know you so delicately lay on the French Riviera with the cool sea breeze and the bright colors of the Mediterranean, making the heat a second thought to the blissful dreams of summer.

Attracting the most colorful, artful, and lively people for centuries, you proudly embrace the smiling sun and whitewashed pebbles. The Promenade des Anglais beautifully captures the imagination and yearnings of all who dream of the good life. The stones on old churches and wrinkles on old faces tell a history worth preserving and protecting.

You must be proud.
You must be proud to be French.

Now tell me, does beauty have a definition to you in Nice? It must be hard to choose what is beautiful in a place so powerful in capturing love. I, however, saw something terribly dark and ugly, and thought I should bring it to your attention. Your policemen forced a woman to undress on the public beach at the Promenade des Anglais. It is part of the “burkini ban” that France is attempting to impose, and she happened to be modestly dressed. Now, forgive me for bringing to light something so terribly wrong in a place so terribly beautiful, but this indeed took my breath away. Your Nice Tourism website declared that “to discover Nice is to have one’s breath taken away”.

Is this what you meant? That we would witness such an atrocious and disgusting act such as the one that happened on Tuesday? That the sight of armed policemen forcing a woman to undress in public would take our breath away? If that is what you meant than I must applaud you for rightfully describing what has happened to Nice. Indeed, you have taken our breath away.

In fact, I am choking.
Choking on iron chains that have for so long silenced women.

You claim to oppose oppression. You claim to want to free women, and give them rights. But I may have gotten a little ahead of myself. Your famous call of “liberte, egalite, fraternite,” seemed to be for the freedom of all. Liberty for who? Equality for who? Fraternity among who? Only for the white, for the secular Christian? For who?

You have not only ripped off the clothing of one woman.
You have shamed us all.

Her humiliation is burning on the cheeks of us all, her powerlessness is numbing us all, and her anger is empowering us all. Don’t you see? You rally for the “burkini ban” because the sight of a women covering herself is seen as oppressive, offensive, and too religious. What is oppressive about a woman choosing to cover herself and love the religion she practices?

The last time I checked, that is the definition of “liberte and egalite” – to wear what we want, to believe what we want. You attempt to silence us, to tear the clothes off our backs and control us through deciding what we can wear. I hope you feel ashamed, and embarrassed. Yesterday it was the burka ban, today it is the burkini ban. Let me help you, and offer you the “woman ban” for tomorrow. It will get the job done faster for those of you who wish to silence any freedom we women want. But let me tell you this, for every woman you attempt to control and humiliate, another will stand up in her place. I can guarantee you that.

The weather in Nice looks lovely today. You boast a temperature of 25C, or 77F, with humidity at 74%. But that doesn’t matter anymore, because whatever temperature it is, it is stifling.

It is suffocating.
And the beauty of Nice is no longer there.



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