'A bit more ear please!': Headscarves in France

A new BBC2 documentary: Crooked Timber:

But the image that one was left with was of the hapless headteacher stopping the Muslims one by one at the school gate, singling them out, insisting on minor adjustments to their dress (“A bit more ear please!”). Utterly, utterly humiliating for all concerned. And the women themselves, now convinced that they would never be accepted in France. One had ambitions to be a nurse, but the government has now extended the law to medical service. Petty inspection, endless argument about the tiniest details of the garb worn by “those people”: humiliating and counterproductive.

I have a hard time understanding why the French aren't getting it about this law. I'm half-tempted to go to Paris this summer and do my own inspections -- situationist parodies of the routine described above on the Paris Metro.


Manish said...

This is the same continent which is deep into helpfully renaming Windows XP on behalf of Microsoft and stripping out a piece of software that's the only way I can guarantee my tech-illiterate relatives can listen to music I forward them.

My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty.

Kerim Friedman said...

Your plan reminds me of a scene from a Jean Rouche film (Petit-a-petit?) where his African friends from Niger go around with calipers measuring the sculls of Parisians.

electrostani said...


Exactly -- my plan would be put on some kind of ugly uniform, then stand in the streetstreet stopping random people. I'll look at them disapprovingly, and say "A little more ear, please!"

C'est votre loi.

Anonymous said...

The French are all about misplaced piorities.

They have score of inspectors making sure people work a 35-hour week, and that stores don't run unauthorized sales, etc. But France has one of the highest crime rates in Europe yet they are no more cops to be had.