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Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

© Eric Feferberg, AFP | Nadine Morano at UMP headquarters

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2014-08-19

A former French minister has been attacked for describing a photo she posted on social media Monday of a veiled – and presumably Muslim – woman sitting on a beach as an, "attack on French culture".

Nadine Morano, who was minister for families under former right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy, was incensed when she stripped to her bikini at an unnamed French beach and was confronted with the sight of the woman, who was wearing a long robe and a scarf covering her hair.

Writing on her Facebook page, where she posted the picture alongside one of a young Brigitte Bardot wearing a skimpy yellow bikini, Morano said wearing a veil on a beach was “an attack on [French] culture”.

“It’s not that she was breaking the law, because her face wasn’t covered,” she wrote, referring to French legislation which bans the wearing of face-covering veils in public, but she still labelled the sight as “shocking”, and indignantly pointed out that the woman’s presumed husband happily wore bathing shorts.

“The image [of Bardot in a bikini] is of a France that is proud and supports free and liberated women,” she wrote. “When people choose to live in France, a proudly secular country, they should respect the freedom of women. Otherwise go and live somewhere else!!”

Morano, who has been previously been ridiculed for criticising teenagers wearing baseball caps backwards and using slang, came under almost instant attack for her remarks.

‘French Muslims don’t complain about nudist beaches!’

“She says people have to respect the values of the French republic, but this also means respecting the values of other French citizens, including Muslims!” said Abdallah Zekri, head of the French National Observatory against Islamophobia.

“This woman didn’t have her face covered, and she wasn’t breaking the law,” he told FRANCE 24. “Respect goes both ways, and Muslims are overwhelmingly respectful of French culture.

“You never hear of French Muslims complaining about nudist beaches, and when French tourists strip to their bikinis on Moroccan or Tunisian beaches, no one there ever complains about it.”

“Mrs Morano should stop trying to teach us lessons and should focus her energy instead on sorting out her own [conservative] UMP party which is divided and in tatters,” he added.
Valérie Pécresse, a member of Morano’s own UMP party, was also critical and distanced herself from the remarks.

“I wouldn’t have had this reaction,” she told RTL Radio. “France is a country where we value freedom. This is the France that I love. A country where, if you respect the laws of the republic, you can go to the beach wearing whatever you like.”

Morano’s Facebook post had generated around 3,000 comments by Tuesday afternoon. The majority of posts ridiculed the former minister, although many were supportive of her point of view.

On commenter said: “I agree. I was once on a beach and I saw a man who had a huge and totally ridiculous moustache. I had to ask myself sincerely whether he had the right to be like that, of whether he should be executed for it.”

Date created : 2014-08-19


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