Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Mondariz in the rain. And some thoughts about intolerance.

So here I am in Mondariz, where Phil is playing the last day of what is probably his last chess tournament of this summer. One of his young chess playing friends said it would rain today. According to him, it always rains on the last day of the Mondariz tournament. Well, it was rather cloudy when I went out for bread for breakfast but it didn't really look like rain. So when we set out later we didn't even think to put umbrellas in the bag. Silly! This is Galicia after all, where the weather can change dramatically overnight and temperatures can drop by ten degrees! 

I went for a walk around the grounds of the hotel before the rain started, very nice they are too. A very bossy Dalmatian dog saw me off at one point. And now it is raining nicely. In fact, there is even a bit of a thunderstorm going on. So I took advantage of the fact that the hotel hosting the congress has wifi to catch up with my mail and the news and so on. And so far none of it seems very good. 

In Italy they have had an earthquake. At least ten people have died and one small town has been half destroyed. And here I am complaining about a bit of rain! 

In France the burkini rows continue and seem to be taking a nasty turn. Here is a link to a story of how police made a woman on a beach in Nice remove some of her clothing because of the "burkini ban". I find myself wondering if they would demand that a woman wearing a raincoat or a big jumper would be obliged to remove some layers. If you wear a long skirt and a long-sleeved loose top, does this also offend the delicate sensibilities of those who believe you have to strip off on the beach? 

I am finding the whole thing more and more distasteful. In the weeks following the Brexit vote in the UK it seemed that certain elements of society had been given carte blanche to make racist comments in public and to be generally rude to folk who do not conform to white Anglo Saxon protestant appearances. I hesitate to say values as those so called values appear to be disappearing rapidly. And the burkini rulings in France will be giving similar license to those who want to bully others into conforming. 

The strange thing is that France, which many people would call a Christian, indeed a Catholic, country, does not actually have a state religion as such. So why is non-denominational state so upset about religious garb? 

In fact, the burkini was invented in Australia, to give Muslim girls a chance to take part in sports without feeling immodest. It was intended to provide the opportunity for greater integration. Nothing at all to do with religious fundamentalists. Here's a link to an article about it. 

When I go to Italy and visit churches, I make sure I have a scarf or shawl of some kind to cover my arms and shoulders. This is not from any deep religious conviction on my part but from a deep moral conviction that we should respect the feelings of others. 

Surely we should be trying to spread tolerance and acceptance not introduce rulings that further restrict people's, and particularly women's, freedom. This is just playing into the hands of the intolerant extremists. 

And that's another rant over and done with!

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