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L'affaire burkini

Here is a good starter activity for your A-level students this year - maybe even a main course! Perhaps better done sooner than later while the topic is still fresh in minds. It may have a while to run yet. I'm assuming you have been keeping up to date with the French mayors' decision to ban burkinis on some beaches and the French upper court (Conseil d'Etat) deeming it illegal. Well, someone posted this picture on Twitter (I don't know its provenance, but I'll happily remove it if anyone objects). I'll offer you some good questions in French to generate discussion and widen students' knowledge and critical skills.

Some key vocabulary first:

un burkini (burqini) - tenue de bain intégrale
un maillot de bain - swimming costume
un bikini
une combinaison de plongée - wetsuit
un habit de religieuse - nun's habit
une bonne soeur/une religieuse - nun
un symbole - symbol
ostentatatoire- ostentatious, showy
un voile intégral - full body veil
un burqa, un niqab, un hijab

bannir - to ban
un maire - mayor
la modestie - modesty
le port du voile - wearing of the veil
la cohésion sociale - social cohesion
une tunique - long woman's top
un attentat terroriste - terrorist attack
un contrevenant - offender
passible d'une amende - subject to a fine
la laïcité - "secularism" - strict separation of religion and state, historically to limit power of the catholic church


(Take these in any order depending on responses - adapt as needed)

Qu'est-ce que vous voyez ici? Décrivez cette image.
A quoi sert une combinaison de plongée?
Un burkini, c'est quoi exactement?
Pourquoi parle-t-on du burkini en ce moment?
Comment les maires justifient-il l'interdiction du port du burkini? (Risque de provoquer des incidents car c'est symbole ostentatoire de l'islam jihadiste - n'oubliez pas les attentats terroristes atroces en France)
Quelle image a choqué beaucoup de personnes, surtout en dehors de la France? (Des policiers armés qui demandaient à une femme d'enlever sa tunique sur une plage dans le midi de la France)
Qui a inventé le burkini? (Une designer australienne - les ventes ont décollé depuis cette affaire!)
Que dit la loi nationale sur le burkini sur les plages? (en août 2016 le Conseil d'Etat a dit que c'est illégal)
Pourquoi est-ce que certaines musulmanes portent un voile ou un voile intégral?
Quels sont les avantages de porter un burkini sur la plage?
Est-ce un signe de l'oppression des femmes ou un simple choix personnel?
Que dit l'islam sur le port du voile? (Il n'y a pas de règle stricte)
Que dit la loi française sur le port du voile intégral (burka/niqab)? (Interdit dans les lieux public - les contrevenantes sont passibles d'une amende - en fait, le port du niqb est rare en France)
Est-ce qu'on devrait dire aux femmes ce qu'elles peuvent porter?
quelle est la différence entre porter une combinaison de plongée, un burkini ou un habit de religieuse?
Pourquoi cette affaire est-elle si importante pour la société française?
Quelle serait l'attitude des Britanniques en ce concerne le port du burkini?
Que pensez-vous de cette question?
Est-ce que la laïcité est un prétexte pour la xénophobie?
Cest quoi, la xénophobie?

Hard to avoid talking a bit about French secularism (laïcité) versus British multiculturalism. Which leads to better integration?

Question fondamentale: c'est quoi, l'intégration - assimiler les minorités en les obligeant à suivre un modèle traditionnel français - ou encourager la cohésion sociale en tolérant et même encourageant les différences?

If you want to go further, you can explain that right-wing candidates for the leadership of the Les Républicains party have been trying to attract support by taking a hard, some woudl say xenophobic, line on this issue, notably ex president Nicolas Sarkozy.

After discussion you could set these questions for written reinforcement.


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