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Facekini

Reader comment on item: ISIS Imposes a Partial Ban on Burqas
in response to reader comment: Stop wondering why Burkini is protested more than Burkha

Submitted by iftikhar Ahmad (United Kingdom), Sep 7, 2016 at 12:41

Before "burkinis" made global headlines, there was China's "facekini."

The colourful, full-face mask is still around, on view at crowded Chinese beaches this summer and for sale online.

It came onto the radar of Western news organizations in the summer of 2012. The New York Times published a front-page story by Dan Levin on the phenomenon, with striking photographs from the coastal town of Qingdao by Sim Chi Yin.

In recent days, people on Twitter and other social media platforms have mocked the banning of burkinis by dozens of French beachside towns by asking what French officials would do if Chinese beachgoers showed up wearing facekinis. The controversy in France over the banning of the burkini, popular with some Muslim women, by at least 30 French municipalities, many on the Riviera, has continued to rage, and a French high court last Friday overturned one town's ban.

Chinese beach going women don the facekini to shield themselves from the sun. In some Asian countries, not only do many women fear wrinkles caused by ultraviolet rays, but they also want to be as pale as possible. Skin-whitening creams are popular in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, for example.

Chinese women who wear facekinis also sometimes wear bathing suits that cover their entire torsos and arms, similar to the burkini and to the wet suits common among surfers.

In 2012 at Qingdao, where the facekini is most ubiquitous, one woman wearing a mask, Yao Wenhua, 58, told The Times, "I'm afraid of getting dark."

"A woman should always have fair skin," she added. "Otherwise people will think you're a peasant.

As startling as they may seem in photographs, facekinis are familiar in China. But what about in France? How would the same officials and police officers who have forced burkini-clad Muslim women off beaches react to this Chinese outfit?

The burkini ban has gotten a range of reactions from Chinese on social media, but it is not a big topic of conversation.

One man, Li Ahong, wrote on Weibo: "This is not a step toward civilization, but a step back to the barbarity of intervening in personal affairs. If you're allowed to be naked, you should be allowed to be entirely covered up."

(Ahong is a Chinese word for imam, but there is no obvious indication from the micro blog posts that Mr. Li is an imam.)

Another commenter argued that security concerns over the burkini were legitimate: "What if there were bombs under the burkinis?"

Last Wednesday, the Weibo account of the overseas edition of People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, posted a sarcastic comment on the French ban that took a swipe at the practice of Western governments criticizing China over its human rights abuses.

"Armed police in France forced a Muslim woman to take off her conservative swimsuit," the People's Daily employee wrote. "Where are their human rights?"

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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