Dear Citizens of the World

Originally posted on Danio's Facebook and edited for clarity.

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The most difficult part about fighting discrimination is to be solution oriented about it. Unfortunately, insults are not the best tool for swaying other people's opinions. A better solution is opening a discussion and finding a common language, because it means you understood that while insulting and excluding people who don't share your views might make you feel better or closer to your values, it doesn't solve the problem of discrimination. So here is my letter to all the people that support the new law in France banning burkinis*:

"Dear citizens of the world,

"What is the rational explanation for forbidding a woman to wear a Muslim swimsuit on the beach? It is not so different from a woman wearing a sweater and a pair of jeans, or a scuba suit, or any other outfit that completely covers your body but still shows your face. There isn't any security issue because you can still see the face and there isn't any proselytism going on because nobody is forcing you to wear the same. 

"But that swimsuit represents a religion you don't support and this is what bothers you, right? 

Because let's be honest, if we take out religion from the discussion, the idea of fining a woman for the way she decided to dress on the beach would sound crazy to you as well, no? 

"I mean, do we want to impose on them also how much they must expose their bodies? 

Is the one-piece swimsuit OK or should they wear a bikini? 

"To be aligned to our culture they should be as naked as possible if they are skinny and completely covered if they are oversize. But they better not be oversize because those kind of people don't really fit our standards and ruins the image of our society! We've found the deal than: Fat Muslims MUST wear a Burkini while skinny ones must go around naked...Do you start to understand the absurdity of what we are speaking about?

"Now that we agreed on the fact that your problem is with the religion itself and that you deliberately decided to discriminate against someone for what they believe in, let's analyze the situation together. 

"In Europe there are almost 60 million Muslims and most of them are born here or they legally immigrated. "Kicking them out" is not a realistic option as they have your same right to stay here, so we need to find a way to live together. In Europe there are a lot of different religions and even if in the past others have been randomly attacked (Jewish people, for example) depending on the trend of the moment, the one disturbing you the most now is Islam. Your perception of the religion probably started to get worse after ISIS rose, as they declared to kill people in the name of Allah and started to recruit even among the Europeans. 

"But it's not so simple. So the situation is that there are two different groups of people: the first one (around 1.7 billion) promote a religion of peace. It's against violence and has never killed anyone. The other one is the most famous terrorist organization in the world and promotes a culture of violence and segregation. 

They look like two very different groups of people but for some reason you decided to treat them the same way. Is it enough to declare to be part of a group to immediately become part of it? 

"OK, let's make this easier to understand: 

Do you remember when you where at the elementary school and you declared you were engaged with the most beautiful girl in the school but she knew nothing about it? That didn't really count, right? The situation is more or less the same with ISIS and Islam. Declaring you're a Muslim is not enough to be part of the religion. 

"You are still not convinced, I know. You see that terrorists are recruiting among the Islamic population and therefore you still see every Muslim as a possible danger. I was expecting that. You and I see the world in two very different ways... But let me understand your point of view: we have a terrorist organization that leverages fear and religious discrimination to recruit Muslim people who, despite living in Europe, feel closer to the values ISIS than to the European ones. People who, after years of living in our cities, still don't feel to belong here and prefer to risk their life to kill other people.

"And your solution is to forbid Muslims to wear their clothes on the beach, to close mosques, to make them feel excluded, feel like they are not welcome, and to make it impossible for them to freely follow the principles of their religion? How will this improve the situation? You are literally pushing people into the hands of ISIS! 

Every time that someone who was born and raised in Europe, no matter the religion, feels like they belong more to a terrorist organization than to our community, I perceive it as a failure from our side and from our integration system. 

"I don't expect you to understand Islam or educate yourself about the different religions of the world, but, at least to be solution oriented, and avoid discrimination.

"PS: no the women on the photo are not touched by that law, even if they dress the same and for the same reason."

*a burkini is a swimsuit worn by Muslim women so that they can enjoy the beach and summer while staying true to their values and beliefs.

Original post here: https://www.facebook.com/danio.bau/posts/10209420461501429

Danio Baù

I'm a student graduating in financial markets at the University of Trieste (Italy) and for the last 4 years I have been active in the social field through AIESEC, organizing projects to promote cultural diversity and foster a culture of peace against any form of discrimination of gender, religion, provenience or sexual orientation.

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