The broader media gave the story of how a young woman was set upon by five other women for sunbathing in a bikini in a park in Reims, France, some attention today and a few new titbits have come out. (I covered this yesterday.)
According to the national newspaper Le Monde, under the headline ‘Emotions and hasty conclusions’ the woman who was attacked is Angélique Slosse. Three of her alleged attackers have been named, Inès Nouri, Zohra Karim and Hadoune Tadjouri. The other two are minors and their names have not been released. All five are Muslim.
The newspaper says that one of the alleged attackers was slightly injured and was signed off work for three days. One of Slosse’s friends was also given hospital treatment for injuries received.
Buzzfeed France claims to have contacted one of the alleged attackers, who was not identified by name, but only by her age, 19. She confirmed that she and her friends were Muslims, but that she ‘was tolerant’. According to her, she had, on seeing the victim dressed in shorts and a bikini top, said that she ‘wouldn’t dare dress like that’, to which she claims Slosse retorted ‘If I had a body like yours, I wouldn’t either.’
Buzzfeed’s contact then went on to say that she ‘approached (Slosse) to slap her, when she started fighting with my friend.’ The person, according to her lights, then tried to break up the fight before bystanders and a policeman intervened.
Certainly, this was petty. Probably, there was over-reaction. But one must ask, is it okay for a young woman, minding her own business, sunbathing in a bikini and shorts, to be harassed by passers-by and then when she retorts — and let’s face it, her response was funny — to be physically attacked by five people?
Furthermore, the alleged attacker’s suggestion that she was not being aggressive is clearly false: her remarks were made loud enough for Slosse to hear them and respond. Her statement is also at odds with earlier reports, confirmed in l’Express by Commissar Julie Galisson, which claimed she had told Slosse to ‘Go home and dress, it’s not summer.’ Then, she clearly states that her intention was to physically attack Slosse, ‘to slap her’.
If you’ve observed as many Sheriff Courts as I have — the joys of being a photographer — then you know how to interpret statements like these: play down the culpability and make like innocent. But there is no denial that the attackers first harassed Slosse and then assaulted her. The only question is whether the motivation religious and again, it’s hard to see how it could have been otherwise.
There have been numerous incidents where Muslims in France have caused problems already because they think that French customs are unacceptable to their religion. Butchers have been threatened for cooking sausages on Fridays and shops have been forced to close. Restaurant chains have been coerced into taking pork off their menus and supermarkets into stocking ‘halal’ meats; anyone familiar with the obscene cruelty involved in the slaughter of animals to produce this, should find that offensive. I know I do.
The authorities and the Media are terrified that a reaction might occur. It’s been a hot summer, always good for riots, and there is a lot of anger in France just now, at Hollande, at the austerity measures forced on the country by Germany and by high unemployment, a low Euro and falling house prices. The Establishment does not want the extreme right of the Front National to profit from more stories of Muslim misbehaviour and intimidation, and one may sympathise.
It’s all very well to try to play down a problem to stop it developing. The trouble is, it looks as if it might be too late for that.