19 September 2016

Intolerance

Picture this. August in France, 1998,  and we are basking on a quiet beach on the Atlantic coastal island of Noirmoutier. Behind the beach there's a rambling walled property. We can see turrets and chimney stacks.

In the middle of that hot afternoon, the gate to the old seaside property opens and out comes a giggling gaggle of Catholic nuns. There are seven or eight of them all dressed in their black religious garb complete with white coifs and black veils to cover their heads. 

Still giggling girlishly they proceed to the water's edge, raising their dark robes to paddle in the sea. They are having fun which is a little surprising as being a nun or a monk usually smacks of seriousness, self-sacrifice and large dollops of misery. Such is the power of religion.

But the thing is this. Gendarmes did not appear on the beach to arrest these nuns. After all, their beach attire was little different from the prudish Muslim "burkini" that has proven to be a source of  great controversy on French beaches this summer.

Just the other day a young Australian Muslim called Zeynab Alshelh was driven off from a beach on The French Riviera for wearing a burkini. Apparently, other beachgoers, probably dressed in pornographic thongs and skimpy bikinis, had vehemently objected to her chosen beachwear.

I have no doubt whatsoever that if Zeynab had been dressed as a Catholic nun - like those giggling young women on the Noirmoutier beach - her presence would have raised no objections at all. Ironically, the selective  intolerance being shown in France can only fuel Muslim extremism. Besides, to avoid the possibility of skin cancer, it is surely wise to cover both head and body on a sunny beach.

22 comments:

  1. You're right on all counts. I continue to be mystified about why the burkini is a problem.

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    1. At your French class have you learnt this expression - "A la plage, j'aime les burkinis"? I know this is higher level French and you might not yet have reached this standard.

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  2. My favourite nun photo ( strangely enough i have many)
    If i was a mother superior, i would take all my nuns to france and plonk them on the beach...........two birds in one
    A sunshine holiday for the sisterhood and photo opportunity for proper left wing thinkers everywhere

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    1. I think you would make an excellent Mother Superior and Chris could be Father Burton. Tongues would be wagging all over North Wales.

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  3. I think some of the garish board shorts worn by men should be banned, too!

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    1. Muscular bronzed lifeguards should be banned from beaches as they make me look very unappealing when I am strutting my stuff.

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    2. Sons of beaches!!!

      Let's just ban all beaches...that would solve all embarrassing problems.

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  4. My sentiments are with yours YP.

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    1. Did you wear a burkini at Mablethorpe? Might have been a good idea - just to keep warm!

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  5. If you ask me, it's just the French being the French. Not that I'm prejudiced or intolerant of course...

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    1. I am also a very tolerant fellow. While over in Lancashire recently I actually spoke to some of them. Normally I ask my wife to do all the talking when we are over there.

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  6. Nuns dressed like that in France in 1998? They must be behind the times with changes in 'fashion' in France. Maybe that is why they have a problem with the burkini. Of course I think the burkini is a grand idea - it was designed by an Australian.

    Alphie

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    1. Yes. They were dressed like that in 1998 even though I did not take that photo at the time. Do you have any nuns in Australia?

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  7. The burkini issue just show racial and cultural intolerance. You have a good analogy on this one.

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    1. Thanks Red. I do think my little tale highlights the bigotry quite well.

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  8. What happens to those beach goers who dress in full-body neoprene for surfing or other water sports, I wonder?

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    1. As they are unlikely to be Muslims such beachwear will be perfectly acceptable in France.

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  9. It's the fear of the unknown and a ban is of course the wrong way to get to know. I'm happy to see muslima at a beach and in a pool, something they have avoided so far. Although I must admit, it would let me look twice. But a nun at the beach would let me look the same way. Everything that looks different attracts attention at the beginning. Moods will calm down - hopefully!

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    1. I hope your optimism is well-founded Kaki. I am not so sure.

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  10. The French have always been intolerant of anything they don't understand, but at the same time will go on strike (they love to, don't they)at the mere suggestion that they are not able to exercise their own freedoms to do as they please. Strange that they should complain about someone who wishes to cover up, yet have no qualms about some of the revolting near naked (and naked) sights you see on their beaches.

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    1. Yes. Such a contradiction CG. You're right.

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  11. An excellent post with excellent comments. I couln't agree more. I shall overlook your insensitive and hurtful comment about speaking to Lancastrians.

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