A man dressed in a suit walks past a woman enjoying a sun bath near the Tuileries fountains in central Paris. Philippe Wojazer / Reuters
A man dressed in a suit walks past a woman enjoying a sun bath near the Tuileries fountains in central Paris. Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

In the summer silly season, facts cover even less than a bikini



The silly season in the West always guarantees plenty of stories about bikinis. With very little to write about and acres of space to fill, there are numerous opportunities to get an image of a pretty sunbather in the media. In France, these stories invariably reference supermodels or flabby presidents showing off their latest love interests.

Such frivolity took on a disturbing twist last week, however, when details of an unpleasant fight between rival girl gangs in a park in Reims, eastern France, were fabricated to spread hatred against Muslims.

A bikini was the centrepiece of the deceit: a 21-year-old woman had been attacked, the initial reports suggested, because of her choice of attire. The victim had been in breach of some unspecified Islamic law – or so the warped storyline went – and a group of girls decided to punish her “for ‘immorally’ showing too much flesh in public”.

A call to the authorities in Reims soon established that the incident had, in the words of Julie Galisson, the senior police officer investigating the assault, “absolutely nothing to do with religion”. Arguments can and do escalate into violence, and this was yet another example of youths overstepping the mark. The victim, as well as those now facing violent disorder charges, all made this clear in their witness statements.

But the facts didn’t stop the bigots. As so often happens, stigmatisation of Muslims in France started off as innuendo, and rapidly degenerated into vicious insults. A chance to demonise Muslims was first taken up by a local newspaper in Reims. Its disturbing allegations about girls acting as self-styled “religious police” spread across the country. Within hours, minor French celebrities and politicians were contributing to a bizarre campaign championing the “right” to wear a bikini in public. The fact that nobody had ever questioned such a “right” did not seem to matter at all.

A group of women staged a mini-protest in the Reims park, while others posted pictures of themselves in their beach apparel, alongside the hashtag #jeportemonmaillotauparc (I’m wearing my swimsuit in the park).

Anne Sinclair, the multimillionaire art heiress and online journalist, used her Twitter account to make a particularly clumsy connection between the Reims incident and the closing of a beach near Cannes to the public, so that King Salman of Saudi Arabia could use it on his summer holiday.

The reality is that rich VIPs, including French politicians, are as likely to shut off stretches of coastline for their private use as a foreign ruler. This has nothing to do with Islam. Ms Sinclair’s fantasy role as a campaigner for freedom-loving bikini wearers against non-existent Muslim oppressors is all the more dismal considering how long she remained loyal to her ex-husband, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, after the former IMF chief was accused of the attempted rape of a chamber maid in New York. She was widely attacked by feminists for bankrolling DSK’s defence before he finally paid an undisclosed sum to his accuser in a civil court.

One of the most worrying aspects of the Reims saga was how quickly this poison travelled abroad. Mainstream English language media outlets wrote conspiratorially about the alleged aggressors coming from “housing estates with large Muslim populations”. Substitute the word “Muslims” with “Jews”, or any other minority religion, in such reporting, and there would be criminal complaints. Instead, expressions of hate mushroomed, prompting Esther Benbassa, the Europe-Ecology party senator, to compare it to the kind of pre-Holocaust sentiments whipped up by the Nazis in the 1930s. “We’ve got to stop leaping on every incident,” she said. Le Monde also condemned the outpouring of “xenophobia, sexism, violence and vulgarity” – one which saw two of the Reims alleged assailants contemplate suicide and others suffer further physical attacks.

So it was that, once again, every effort was made to conflate any kind of antisocial activity with Islam – a religion followed by 1.6 billion people the world over, including some six million in France. While a park fight between provincial kids would usually go unmentioned in the local press, let alone garner international media attention, the insertion of the word “Muslim” guaranteed a major polemic. Many will at least now know that it was all based on a lie, but – as with the readers of all silly season stories in the West – there will be plenty of others around who will continue to believe every Islamophobic word.

Nabila Ramdani is a French-Algerian journalist and broadcaster who specialises in Islamic affairs and the Arab world

On Twitter: @NabilaRamdani

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

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Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
yallacompare profile

Date of launch: 2014

Founder: Jon Richards, founder and chief executive; Samer Chebab, co-founder and chief operating officer, and Jonathan Rawlings, co-founder and chief financial officer

Based: Media City, Dubai 

Sector: Financial services

Size: 120 employees

Investors: 2014: $500,000 in a seed round led by Mulverhill Associates; 2015: $3m in Series A funding led by STC Ventures (managed by Iris Capital), Wamda and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority; 2019: $8m in Series B funding with the same investors as Series A along with Precinct Partners, Saned and Argo Ventures (the VC arm of multinational insurer Argo Group)

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

IF YOU GO
 
The flights: FlyDubai offers direct flights to Catania Airport from Dubai International Terminal 2 daily with return fares starting from Dh1,895.
 
The details: Access to the 2,900-metre elevation point at Mount Etna by cable car and 4x4 transport vehicle cost around €57.50 (Dh248) per adult. Entry into Teatro Greco costs €10 (Dh43). For more go to www.visitsicily.info

 Where to stay: Hilton Giardini Naxos offers beachfront access and accessible to Taormina and Mount Etna. Rooms start from around €130 (Dh561) per night, including taxes.

The specs

Price, base / as tested Dh1,100,000 (est)

Engine 5.2-litre V10

Gearbox seven-speed dual clutch

Power 630bhp @ 8,000rpm

Torque 600Nm @ 6,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined 15.7L / 100km (est) 

Innotech Profile

Date started: 2013

Founder/CEO: Othman Al Mandhari

Based: Muscat, Oman

Sector: Additive manufacturing, 3D printing technologies

Size: 15 full-time employees

Stage: Seed stage and seeking Series A round of financing 

Investors: Oman Technology Fund from 2017 to 2019, exited through an agreement with a new investor to secure new funding that it under negotiation right now. 

ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS

- Carbonated drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, confectionery, mass-produced packaged breads and buns 

- margarines and spreads; cookies, biscuits, pastries, cakes, and cake mixes, breakfast cereals, cereal and energy bars;

- energy drinks, milk drinks, fruit yoghurts and fruit drinks, cocoa drinks, meat and chicken extracts and instant sauces

- infant formulas and follow-on milks, health and slimming products such as powdered or fortified meal and dish substitutes,

- many ready-to-heat products including pre-prepared pies and pasta and pizza dishes, poultry and fish nuggets and sticks, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products, powdered and packaged instant soups, noodles and desserts.

Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

THE BIO: Martin Van Almsick

Hometown: Cologne, Germany

Family: Wife Hanan Ahmed and their three children, Marrah (23), Tibijan (19), Amon (13)

Favourite dessert: Umm Ali with dark camel milk chocolate flakes

Favourite hobby: Football

Breakfast routine: a tall glass of camel milk

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
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Everybody Loves Touda

Director: Nabil Ayouch 

Starring: Nisrin Erradi, Joud Chamihy, Jalila Talemsi

Rating: 4/5

WORLD RECORD FEES FOR GOALKEEPERS

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4) Gianluigi Buffon, Parma to Juventus (£33m)

5) Angelo Peruzzi, Inter Milan to Lazio (£15.7m

The bio:

Favourite holiday destination: I really enjoyed Sri Lanka and Vietnam but my dream destination is the Maldives.

Favourite food: My mum’s Chinese cooking.

Favourite film: Robocop, followed by The Terminator.

Hobbies: Off-roading, scuba diving, playing squash and going to the gym.

 

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now