Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I don’t often agree with Muslims

But I again find myself sympathetic with Muslim women in France. The latest case involves a woman being banned from a public pool because she was wearing a modest, head to toe bathing suit that allows her to swim without violating the tenets of Islam, or at least as some Muslims interpret the laws of Islam.

PARIS – A Muslim woman garbed in a head-to-toe swimsuit — dubbed a "burquini" — may have opened a new chapter in France's tussle between religious practices and its stern secular code.

Officials insisted Wednesday they banned the woman's use of the Islam-friendly suit at a local pool because of France's pool hygiene standards — not out of hostility to overtly Muslim garb.

Under the policy, swimmers are not allowed in pools with baggy clothing, including surfer-style shorts. Only figure-hugging suits are permitted.

The reason is completely ridiculous. The suit might be unsanitary? In a pool full of chlorinated water?

An official in charge of swimming pools for the Emerainville region, Daniel Guillaume, said the refusal to allow the local woman to swim in her "burquini" had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with public health standards.

"These clothes are used in public, so they can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers," Guillaume said in a telephone interview.

"We reminded this woman that one should not bathe all dressed, just as we would tell someone who is a nudist not to bathe all naked," he said.

Which is more unsanitary? A woman in a tiny bikini that covers virtually none of her body or a woman in a full length suit? A fat, hairy French dude in a speedo or a modestly dressed woman in full-length swimwear? Swimsuits very similar to this were common in the not too distant history of Western civilization. It is hardly a sign of "progress" that men and women have been racing to see how small suits can be without completely uncovering the wearer.

She is not “fully clothed”, jumping into the pool in jeans and a sweatshirt. This is a specifically designed outfit for swimming. The only difference is that it leaves some of her body covered. Even most modern commonly available one-piece bathing suits are pretty revealing. When you get into two piece suits, in many cases there is a negligible difference between wearing a swimming suit or wearing nothing but underwear. I would rather see women at a pool dressed in this sort of suit than seeing women dressed in suits that are immodest and, ahem, inappropriate for their body type.

The law in France basically states that if you want to swim in a public pool, you have to immodestly expose yourself (“Only figure-hugging suits are permitted”). We could certainly all do with more modest dress in the world instead of banning women who want to swim without stripping down. As much as I think Islam is a religion that condemns people, I also dislike seeing Western democracies imposing punitive rules that are aimed at religious freedom. As if I needed another reason to dislike France.

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Martine said...

France is a socialist country, there are very few practicing Christians living there, most of the churches are tourist attractions, occasionally used for worship. The socialists have almost succeeded in eradicating Christianity in France, but now they have the problem of large Muslim population, most of whom are very active in practicing their faith. The socialists are chipping away at the muslims, but I think they are going to have a harder time suppressing them, but they have attempted to ban clothing, such as the veil. Only time will tell.
On a second note, just swimming in a pool with a bunch of strangers would seem to expose people to germs, hence the chlorine, how many little kids go potty in the pool??? That is grosser than a person wearing a head to toe garment to swim in.
As Christians in this country we have to protect our rights, as our country is starting on the road to socialism, we are all already under attack, and it is only going to get worse. Socialist don't want the people putting faith in God, they want the people putting faith in the government to solve their problems.

Steve Martin said...

The garb that Muslims force (pressure) women to wear is degarding.

Sure, you can say that it is their choice to wear it, but it is still degrading and offensive to the rest of society, not to mention daangerous in the case of the burqa.

If there were a cult in this country that decided women should be led around on leashes (like animals), we ought put a stop to that practice in public. If they wanted to do it in private, then ok.

We can't always do what we want to do in polite society. We certainly don't allow people to walk around in the nude.

Arthur Sido said...

How is a woman choosing to cover herself degrading? Is that more degrading than for a woman than to be objectified by baring herself on a beach?

I fear that many of us have let our cultural disdain and hostility for Islam color our opinion here.

Anonymous said...

Christianity is a choice, it can't be forced on someone. Muslims may be wrong, but you shouldn't attack them because of it. That kind of behavior is no better than the cultures that have attacked christianity in the past. turn the other cheek dude, convert with kindness not harsh words and persicution. (I think I spelled that wrong)

Martine said...

We have Christian denominations that have very strict codes of dress, they are not as strict at the muslims, but dress is very gender specific, ie: women wear dresses/skirts, long hair, and men have short hair and wear pants. For example, Amish, Mennonite, a fair number of fundamentalists, apostolics, Catholics as far as nuns, and monks some have very strict dress codes, and in non-Christian, we have Hasidic(sp)Jews, mormons, hindu, muslim etc. Many faiths/denominations have dress codes that are gender specific. I don't find any of them to be degrading, I find modesty to be a refreshing change of pace, compared to way a lot of people dress. Isn't it more degrading for a woman to feel that she has to wear very little, to be attractive, and thus she is reduced to being a sex object?

Steve Martin said...

Not being allowed to show one's face is a form of degradation.

There are pressures on these women to do this.

Would you let women parade nude in dog collars if they choose to do so?

In a civil society I think it would be a terrible thing and degrading and humiliating.

What France is doing will help tp keep them free of the scouge of Islam. It won't do the trick by itself, but it will help. Letting women have the dignity to be able to show their faces goes a long way to helping have a taste of freedom, and to resist the subjugation that comes from the oppressive religion known as Islam.

Steve Martin said...

You do realize that Muslim women are killed now and then, for acting Western.

Honor killings in Europe and other parts of the world are on the rise.

Again, this would go along way in helping to restore some freedom and dignity that that terrible freedom smothering religion robs from people...especially women.

Steve Martin said...

This is where this stuff leads...and worse:

Arthur Sido said...


It is degrading based on your definition. There are many people who think that catechizing children is child abuse. It is not and should not be the job of the government to favor one form of religious expression over another. The parading nude thing is a completely different issue because our societal standard of decency restrict nudity in public regardless of religious expression. This is a stricture that is aimed directly at one form of religious expression. I don’t think we should pick and choose which religious liberties we want the state to enforce. You mentioned honor killings but again we have laws against murder regardless of the reason (unless you count abortion). It is the same argument as hate crimes, we don’t need to pass a law that says that crimes are criminal.

For me, quite frankly the spread of Islam in France has no more eternal consequences than the spread of atheism. Having said that, I don't want France picking sides among religions or being in the business of promoting Christianity. I don’t trust the government to administer health care, manage my retirement savings or defend our borders. I surely don’t trust the government to decide what is an acceptable religious expression or not.

Steve Martin said...


The spread of Atheism will not cut your head off or the heads of your familiy members.

Atheism is not hell-bent on taking over the world (Islam is) and imposing Sharia law on everyone.

Islam is.

Steve Martin said...

Check out this site periodically:

And this one:

Steve Martin said...

Anything that we can do (with morally acceptable means) to try and keep people out of the bonds of subjugation to help prevent this from happening, is a good thing: