Thanks for your response to the piece, Fredinho.

I don’t dispute most of the points you make — indeed, France has the right to its own cultural ‘landscape’ and ‘the view’ (of people and places) so to speak. It’s true too that young second-and-third generation immigrants are trying to make a point with their appurtenances and attitudes.

I simply think it’s rather pointless — in security terms, and possibly for social cohesion — to ban an article of clothing, especially when it has little to do with a religion per se and/or terrorism threats, and when very few Frenchwomen would probably be wearing a burqini anyway.

The reasons for the young uns’ behaviour are eternally in debate. French sociologist Olivier Roy offers an interesting suggestion. (Here’s a link to a piece I wrote for ‘The National’ explaining some of what he says:

I think it’s also not entirely accurate to say France has integrated immigrants in a seamless way, though I accept that these issues are never easy and any assessment will be subjective.

Finally, I’m sure it would be so much more peaceful if we could return to a less mixed-up world, an earlier age when travel and migration and the thrust of other people’s hopes, habits and horrible propensities didn’t matter so much. I just don’t know when exactly that might be. Even Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’ (and Shylock’s proclivities) were based on a 14th century Italian collection of stories that presumably told of the very real travails of living in Venice, then Europe’s great moneylending laboratory. That said, modern ‘globalisation’, for want of a better word, does mean everyone from everywhere is more in evidence than before. Or apparently so.

As you say, things are not black and white. They never are.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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