The burkini, coming to a pool near you soon
Charles Bremner in the Times has highlighted the case of the banned burkini in France.
Here we go with a summer episode in the saga of France versus Muslim dress. This one involves a 35-year-old French convert to Islam called Carole who was thrown out of a suburban swimming pool for wearing the head-to-toe swimsuit known as the "burkini".
Carole was on her third burkini outing to the town pool at Emerainville, in the eastern outskirts, when the chief lifeguard ordered her to leave. She was said to be breaking hygiene rules but everyone is casting the incident as another clash between fundamentalist Muslims and a state that has banned head-cover from schools and wants to curb face-covering.
French muslim groups are up in arms about it, of course, as is Carole who did exactly what we all wouldn't do. Went straight to the police. It does appear to be a confrontational stance and with the running battles over muslim dress in France, it most probably is.
The police don't seem too bothered about it for a perfectly rational reason.
The police refused to accept the complaint on the grounds that the lifeguard was just enforcing the rules that apply in all French public pools. Women must wear swimsuits and men must wear brief trunks -- Speedos -- rather than shorts, which are said to be more likely to harbour bacteria.
Say that again, Monsieur Gendarme? ALL French pools have rules against bacteria-harbouring shorts? Not over here, they don't. In fact, it's the other way round.
Alton Towers in skimpy Speedos ban
Morwenna Angove, sales and marketing director for Alton Towers, said: "We feel this small brief style is not appropriate for a family venue so we are advising male bathers to wear more protective swimwear such as shorts."
Have health and safety been trumped here? France, Holland and Canada have hygiene rules on such swimming attire, but not us. Hoorah.
Unfortunately, it is instead imperative that the chiiildren should be protected from seeing anything remotely resembling the human body.
Fortunately for muslims, though, they will be able to wear the burkini wherever they choose in this country. And seeing as it is a fast-growing phenomenon, you'll no doubt be seeing them at your local pool very soon.
Who knows? In Labour's prurient and multi-cultural Britain, they may even become mandatory.