Burkinis — shapeless, full-bodied swim-suits worn by Muslim women — are in a quantum state in France. Like Schrodinger’s cat, a ban against burkinis exists and doesn’t exist simultaneously. Some 30 mayors of south-coast towns with attractive sea shores have announced a ban on burkinis on their beaches. Two mayors — of Nice and Cannes — have also imposed fines. However yesterday, over and above the mayors, France’s highest administrative court, the State Council, has lifted the ban. Controversy has been let loose.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy, centre-right candidate for the French Presidency next year, swinging further to the right in order to steal the vote for extremist, Marine le Pen, has also adopted the mayors’ burkinis ban for the whole of France. He’s building on the ban against the Muslim women’s face veil which he successfully brought about five years ago when he was previously president.
So France is in a state of confusion about these cultural matters, but no more than we are in this country — nor in America where it’s colour of skin that’s the issue rather than religion. None of the governments concerned have yet realised that there’s all the difference in multicultural harmony between a mixed group working happily together to produce an income — or some other challenge — and the same mixed group during their leisure hours where a much wider range of cultural differences come into play — each to its own kind — and can badly jar one another if situated too closely.