What looks like a bizarre and unnecessary ban on a stupid piece of swimwear may have more going for it than we like to accept.
A country that has just suffered a series of deadly attacks on it's innocent and defenseless citizens, must surely do, and be seen to do, something decisive. The obvious question now is whether this (effectively a hijab ban) is a suitable measure.
There are many debates about French secularism and islamic sensibilities, but from a security perspective, sunny beaches are the ultimate in 'soft' targets for terrorists, and having just returned from a European holiday, when my mind did drift back to the muslim who murdered 38 people on a sunny Tunisian beach, I can attest that anything which helps prevent such attacks is to be applauded and supported.
But there is another side to this story, and it appears that muslims are not to be inconvenienced or challenged about their behavior or dress, despite their community's overt and covert, support for the jihadi's living among them.
This is almost amusing, having spent several hours lining up to be screened and inspected at airports on the aforementioned holiday, all measures imposed courtesy of jihadist murderers, it is difficult to sympathize with those who complain that their lives are adversely affected by the brutal actions of their coreligionists.
This is one bit of assimilation that they cannot avoid; welcome to life in the West.
One could compare women being required to dress according to their surroundings on a beach, with women not being allowed to wear shorts and t-shirt in mosks, but a more realistic question is to ask how long would it take for the cloaking of women to become normalized, such that those who chose not to cover up while relaxing, would be frowned upon and made to feel inappropriately dressed?
It is sad though.
Just a couple of years ago on a lakeside in France, I was struck at how hard a group of young muslims were trying to join in with the fun, The mothers wore headscarves and loose clothing while their children played with everyone else, in what appeared to be two cultures living differently yet together, but much has happened since then, and it is becoming clear that the people of France have some big decisions to make on how their country is to continue.
Back in England, the BBC news were all over the story of French police enforcing the ban, which is now portrayed as an attack on freedom, rather than a liberating act. I guess you pays your money and you takes your pick, but in a TV interview one irate muslima complained bitterly that she was being told what to do and what to wear or not.
What was that all about?
I can't find the news item online, but you get the picture: She sat stern faced and sincerely berated the state for daring to dictate her dress code, all the while wearing the black and ominous garb dictated to desert tribeswomen by a camel-trading pedophile, over a thousand years ago.
Now that is bizarre.