Burkini Inventor: Who's Worse, Taliban or French Politicians?
Aheda Zanetti says she invented the burkini to give women freedom
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2016 6:21 PM CDT
Nissrine Samali, 20, gets into the sea wearing a burkini.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The inventor of the burkini believes France and others who want to ban it have fundamentally "misunderstood" what the garment is all about. Aheda Zanetti, writing in the Guardian, says she invented the burkini in 2004 after watching her niece try to play netball in a makeshift skin-covering athletic uniform and hijab. Zanetti had missed out on sports when she was young and didn't want the same fate befalling her niece, especially as sports are so important in Australia where they live. Zanetti reclaimed a little of what she lost when she tested out the first burkini at a local swimming pool. It was the first time she had swam in public. "It was absolutely beautiful," she writes. "I felt freedom. I felt empowerment."

Zanetti says the burkini is about empowering women—and not just Muslim women, but any woman who prizes modesty—to participate in all aspects of life. She says she wants to "give women freedom, not take it away." Ironically, it's liberty-prizing France trying to do that. "This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away?" she writes. "So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians?" She says banning the burkini is a way of taking away options for Muslim women and forcing them "back into their kitchens." Read the full piece here.