Henry Stewart, a man who lives in London, recently shared his thoughts on France's burkini ban with The Guardian, and it's winning over hearts across social media.
Stewart wrote a letter to the editor suggesting there should be a ban on suits instead of the burkini. Men in suits, he wrote, have started wars, crashed the global economy, and also fired him without explanation.
His letter reads in full:
No woman in a burqa (or a hijab or a burkini) has ever done me any harm. But I was sacked (without explanation) by a man in a suit. Men in suits mis-sold me pensions and endowments, costing me thousands of pounds. A man in a suit led me us on a disastrous and illegal war. Men in suits led the banks and crashed the world economy. Other men in suits then increased the misery to millions through austerity. If we are to start telling people what to wear, maybe we should ban suits.
Stewart's letter has been widely shared online to much delight.
Stewart — who is currently cycling the challenging Haute Route through the Alps to raise money for Calais refugees children's camp and Dreamflight — told A Plus via Direct Message on Twitter that he had no clue that the letter was published until people started tweeting at him. Then his daughter's text came in, he said, to his utter surprise: "'Dad, you've gone viral in Cambodia.' What?"
But Stewart has a hunch as to why.
"My guess is a lot of people have felt very uneasy about the burkini ban, and it may have helped put it into perspective. Though some of the reactions have been interesting, most people have got the point but some people don't seem to get irony and humour. I of course don't actually want to ban suits. For me the letter is about power, and the way the most powerless get picked on while the real problems are not addressed," he wrote.
The founder of a training company called Happy Ltd., Stewart noted that the inspiration for the letter comes partly from Michael Moore.
"[Moore] did a riff about 15 years ago on how we shouldn't be worried about black kids in hoodies, as white men in suits had done all the damage to him — like closing the Detroit car plants," Stewart noted. "It's always stuck with me."
The backlash against France's burkini ban should have come as no surprise. The absurdity and hypocrisy in banning a woman from wearing an outfit on the grounds of emancipating them from a "misogynistic clothing code" has been strongly criticized online.
But the global condemnation has had some effect. A French court recently decided to strike down the ban, and mayors in dozens of beach towns who want to continue to uphold it anyway are struggling to justify its purpose.