Revving up racial tensions in Europe is apparently now the purview of an Australian television channel.
Cashing in on the burkini controversy, a television crew from Channel Seven Australia set off from down under to the French resort of Villeneuve-Loubet to see if they could stir up the locals.
The French city had banned the burkini in keeping with France’s strict mores of secularism — only to have the ban overturned by France’s highest administrative court.
Controversy about the Islamic swimwear came to the front this summer when a group of Muslims in Corsica closed off a public beach for their private use, threatening and using violence against locals who challenged them.
Since at least one of the women in the group in Corsica was dressed in what was perceived to be a burkini, the media latched onto the story as a controversy about the modest swimwear when the Muslims tried to attack a tourist they saw snapping a picture.
The burkini incident reverberated throughout France, with Prime Minister Valls denouncing the garment, saying, "The burkini is not a new range of swimsuit or a fashion. It is the manifestation of a political project, a counter-society founded on the enslavement of women."
Mayors of a number of cities announced a ban on the garment, only to have it overturned by a French high court.
The Australian television crew brought with them Zeynab Alshelh, 23, a medical student from Sydney, who professed to be flying to France to show solidarity with local Muslims over the now-defunct burkini ban.
Cameras were rolling, and the audience was shown French sunbathers telling Alshelh to leave and threatening to call the police.
See the controversial video here
“We were threatened by locals to leave the beach, and if we didn’t they were going to call the police,” Alshelh says on the Channel Seven video. “They weren’t happy with us being there, even though it was on the beach that the burkini ban was overturned, but the locals were not happy.”
Only they weren’t talking to Alshelh. They were talking to the cameraman and his crew.
In France, it is illegal to photograph or film people without their permission. So, the reaction was not at Alselh in her burkini, but rather against the film crew, who were invading the privacy of the beachgoers and their children.
One eye witness, quoted in the Daily Mail Australia , decribed the scene. “The man on the [Channel Seven] video who said, ‘You turn around and you leave,’ was my uncle. He never asked these three people [wearing the burkinis] to leave the beach. He spoke to the camera because he was asking the cameraman to leave. There were children on the beach, including our own, and we didn’t want them to be filmed.”
Yet, it was all the footage that Channel Seven needed to edit the clip to make it look like the man was shouting at the burkini-clad women.
The truth was eventually exposed, prompting the prominent newspaper, The Australian, to write, “The Seven Network and the pugnacious Muslim Aussie family it flew to the French Riviera with the aim of provoking beachgoers into a ‘racist’ reaction to the ‘Aussie cossie’ burkini owe the traumatized people of Nice and France a swift apology.”
Well said. Although journalists have no equivalent of the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors, it is understood that they have an obligation to the public to report facts in the most objective way possible and not with malicious agendas.
There is enough dissent and racism in the modern world that we don’t need hack journalists stirring up more trouble than we are already in.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org