3 Dec 2006

Bikini Overkill

While the ‘Bikini March’ programmed for later this month (un)dresses itself up as a defence of (women’s) rights, I think three features mark it out as a festival of Islamophobia.

1. The choice of the anniversary of last year’s anti-Muslim Cronulla pogrom to stage this event.

2. The choice to march not on a site specific to al-Hilaly, the man whose remarks are ostensibly being protested (not that I think that there is any site which would be specific enough to make such a protest – although see point 3. below), but rather against mosques, representing the Muslim community in general, and their religion itself.

3. The fact that there is no clear danger to the right to wear skimpy swimming costumes in public. While there are undoubtedly some religious conservatives who would like such rights curtailed, they are insignificant in number. Indeed, the right that is under threat is the opposite right, the right to wear hijab at the beach – the Cronulla pogrom was partly directed against this right. Hijab is against the norms of Australian society and is under threat. This is in fact therefore not so much a pro-bikini rally as an implicitly-anti-hijab rally. If there were any danger to the right to wear bikinis, then the rally should address itself to the public authorities, not to a marginalised community.

Update: The explicit rhetoric on the event website confirms the character of the event.