And Now, For Something Completely Different,,,
It's not itsy-bitsy, it's not teeny-weeny - it's the burkini
Tuesday November 28, 2006
Say hello to the burkini - a swimming costume designed for Muslim women. Costing £65, it is a semi-fitting two-piece swimsuit that connects to an "ahiida hijood" and it will be worn by Muslim Australian lifesavers from January.
Sydney designer Aheda Zanetti came up with the design after Surf Life Saving Australia began a drive to recruit more Islamic lifeguards, particularly women, following riots last year between Lebanese Muslim teenagers and white Australians on Sydney's Cronulla beach. The style is not exactly Baywatch - that's the whole point of it - but no one will be able to miss the women running up and down Bondi Beach in these yellow and red outfits.
However, the burkini is by no means the first Muslim swimming cossie. In 2000, the "sharia swimsuit" was all the rage in Cairo, with Egyptian women flocking to buy the high-necked costume with sleeves and a small skirt, which was worn over long trousers. Then came the "swimming hijab", also known as the "legal swimsuit" and again championed in Egypt, which was "manufactured from industrial fibres which prevent it from sticking to the skin when wet". Last year saw the launch of a Turkish swimwear collection called Hasema, consisting of a neck-to-ankle body-suit with hood. More than 40,000 units were sold. Hayrunnisa Gul, the wife of the foreign minister, was among the buyers.
So will the burkini take Australia by storm? Zanetti, 38, said it had taken her a year to persuade Muslim women in Sydney that swimming "is not a sin" and sales had soared. Her company, Ahiida sportswear, has had great feedback, which she has posted on her website: "Sister, you have a fantastic product ... I can't come up with any downsides to the swimsuits," said Arzo.
Heba was equally delighted: "I was finally able to go to my aquarobics class, and I love the swimsuit! It's so lightweight, dries so quickly and it looks great. I received compliments from non-Muslims. I don't look like a fool in the water any more, and I'm not weighed down by all the heavy wet clothes I used to wear."
"In the water, I look like a real swimmer wearing a full body suit or scuba suit - but modest," added Diana.
These ladies have a point: wearing a burkini means saying goodbye to silly swimming caps and cellulite problems. Who knows - Islamic swimwear could catch on in swimming pools from Barnsley to Brighton.
Comment: if the Jihadis have their way, it's not the only thing will catch on all over. Yet another reason to win the Global War on Terrorism.