Morocco bans sale and importation of burqas, Switzerland rules that Muslim girls must attend mixed-sex swimming classes

The BBC reports that Morocco has banned the sale, import, and production of burqas, the garment that veils the entire body and face. While this may seem odd for a Muslim country, the report adds that burqas aren’t common in that country, and the hijab is seen far more often. The BBC says this:

Letters announcing the ban were sent out on Monday, giving businesses 48 hours to get rid of their stock, the reports stated.

There was no official announcement from the government, but unnamed officials told outlets the decision was made due to “security concerns”.

It is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.

A high-ranking interior ministry official confirmed the ban to the Le360 news site, adding that “bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes”.

The decision has split opinion in the North African kingdom, led by King Mohammed VI, who favours a moderate version of Islam.

The Torygraph adds this:

King Mohammed VI, who oversees the Moroccan government, has said that he favours a moderate version of Islam and has vowed to crack down on homegrown terrorism.

“Those who engage in terrorism, in the name of Islam, are not Muslims,” he said in a speech last August. “Their only link to Islam is the pretexts they use to justify their crimes and their folly.

“They have strayed from the right path, and their fate is to dwell forever in hell.”

Well, I agree with a ban of the burqa in certain places like banks and government offices, where faces should be seen, but disagree with the King’s assessment that terrorist Muslims are not Muslims. If terrorist Muslims aren’t Muslims, then young-earth creationist Christians aren’t Christians, for although they don’t perpetuate murder, they perpetuate lies and follies.

Frankly, I’m tired of moderate Muslims calling more extremists “not true Muslims.” They should just own up and say that terrorists embrace a more extreme version of the faith, just as extremist Mormons embrace the custom of taking multiple underage wives.


Here’s another report, this time from the New York Timesalong the same lines. In a fracas that started eight years ago, officials in Basel, Switzerland, ordered Muslim parents to make their daughters attend mixed-sex swimming classes, although the school allowed the girls to wear burkinis. The parents sued in 2010, arguing that the Swiss had violated the students’ freedoms of “thought, conscience, and religion.”

Last Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights ruled for the schools (you can download the full decision here).

“The public interest in following the full school curriculum should prevail over the applicants’ private interest in obtaining an exemption from mixed swimming lessons for their daughters,” the court found.

As the article notes, this could set an important precedent—after all, it is the Court of Human Rights—about the inevitable and increasing clashes between Muslim religious custom and European secularism. While I can see arguments on both sides, it seems to me that if parents choose to send their children to secular schools, they must accept that they have to follow the school curriculum. They can, after all, send their children to Muslim schools, assuming there are such things in Switzerland.

The decision, by a chamber of seven judges, did not dispute that the denial of the parents’ request interfered with their religious freedom, but it emphasized that the need for social cohesion and integration trumped the family’s wishes. The court also noted that schools play “a special role in the process of social integration, particularly where children of foreign origin were concerned,” and that, as such, ensuring the girls’ “successful social integration according to local customs and mores” took precedence over religious concerns.

The parents have three months to appeal the court’s decision. Representatives of the family could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In Switzerland, politicians and civic groups across the political spectrum welcomed the ruling, calling it an important validation of the supremacy of secularism and the rule of law, even as some Muslims complained that it reflected growing intolerance for religious minorities.

In the end, what swayed me to support the school’s decision is that these children have been brainwashed in a way they can’t control and in a way that sets them apart from their fellow citizens. More and more I am coming to agree with Richard Dawkins that such religious indoctrination constitutes “child abuse”.

If I could make one rule for the world, it would be that no religious indoctrination would be given to children at all by their parents. Then, at about age 16 or so, they could investigate different faiths and choose their own—or none. I suspect this would dramatically increase the proportion of unbelievers in the world, but of course such a rule could never fly—anywhere.

Feel free to express your agreement or disagreement with either of these decisions below.

h/t: Michael


  1. garthdaisy
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! The biggest burka bonanza sale this millennium! Every burka must go! We’re slashing prices like real muslims, not throats like fake muslims!. Sunday! Sunday Sunday! All burkas 90% off. You can’t beat these prices or your wives anymore!

    But seriously folks: “The parents sued in 2010, arguing that the Swiss had violated the students’ freedoms of “thought, conscience, and religion.”

    THE PARENTS violated the student’s freedoms of “thought, conscience, and religion.” The Swiss are trying to give it back.

    Surprised, Professor Coyne, to hear that you are just now seeing it as Dawkins does, as child abuse. I would have assumed you felt that way all along. There is no bigger problem with religion than this practice of childhood indoctrination.

    “If I could make one rule for the world, it would be that no religious indoctrination would be given to children… ”

    Indeed this is all we need. In such a world there would be virtually no religion. A secular upbringing almost always leads to atheism. Only childhood indoctrination could fill our world with so many deluded victims of their parent’s religion.

    • neelingman
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      “of course such a rule could never fly—anywhere.”

      Not long ago same sex marriage in the USA seemed equally improbable.

      The only way to combat the planet-wide poison that is organised religion is to ban the indoctrination of children. At the moment that’s not really even a thing.

      It needs to become a recognisable campaign. For that it needs a slogan.

      Like “Make America Great Again.” In itself not at all special. But with constant repetition, it became something yuge. Not at all great, but yuuuge. Caps. Bumper stickers. T-shirts.

      A slogan that is said and repeated and repeated every time the topic of education of children is even close to being raised.

      So that “Stop Brainwashing Children” becomes a thing.

      And then becomes a movement. “Stop Brainwashing Children.”

      And them becomes a possibility. “Stop Brainwashing Children.”

      And finally becomes reality. “Stop Brainwashing Children.”

      I don’t know if “Stop Brainwashing Children” is that slogan.

      Please suggest better ones. And then let’s settle on one.

      And start repeating it over and over and over again.

      • garthdaisy
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        Hear hear. Another possible slogan: “Children deserve freedom of religion too.”

        When people defend religion, they seem to be under the impression they are protecting people’s chosen faith. If only religion’s believed in freedom of religion. They just don’t. Children are their property, and future soldiers.

  2. Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I grew up in a country called Tajikistan. Its in Central Asia, with 90% of muslim population (very secular country/former Soviet Union Republic). Older generation is very secular but upcoming younger generation are getting more fanatical. In islam there’s big prayer on Friday afternoons (like churchgoing on sundays for christians), so many schoolchildren would escape the class and go to the mosque for prayer, And our president ruled that if anybody younger than 18 went to the mosque on the day of prayer would be jailed and their parents would be fined. And president also ruled that no government worker is allowed to put on long beard (muslim tradition). I was split minded about these issues. I supported these rules and at the same time was concerned about individual human rights of these people. But i think in the end for the sake of civilization to be secular and healthy we have to put up with some mild rules that prevent dogmatism to take over.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, some mild rules should be fine. No one is forcing people to work for the government after all, they can chose their trade if they feel uncomfortable.

      We certainly don’t need more dogmatism running around. Let us meow to get more catmatism!

  3. Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Regarding schools, I think it is clear that such decisions must give priority to the well being of the child, and provision of the best possible education.

    Are there pedagogical reasons why certain children should be separated from other children? In this case the answer is clearly no.

    • eric
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I find the Swiss case interesting because where I am in the US, swim classes aren’t part of school. I’d frankly be royally ticked off if the government told me who my kid could and could not attend his private swim lessons with.

      However, if you’re talking about a P.E. type class in public school, then yes, I fully agree with the ‘no religious exception’ idea. No segregated recess or anything else, either.

      So in this instance, its really about the public school class policy rather than a swimming policy. What they’re having the kids do is almost irrelevant, because the same rule would pretty much apply to any other public school class; no segregation of the sexes on religious grounds.

      • Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Here in Germany swimming classes are often part of P.E., so I assume that’s what it is in Switzerland too. Some public baths here occasionally have a “girls only” day for children. In a situation where the other option is that some children don’t get to go swimming, I think that’s a good option.

        But I do think it’s the state’s responsibility to use the school system to try to shape society for the best, meaning disempower religious fanatics.

        Here schools have been far too accommodating to whichever Muslim group can shout the loudest. They think they are being “nice to Muslims”, but they are in fact disempowering certain types of voices within the Muslim community, and allowing the fanatics to use peer group pressure to get girls veiled and married off.

        • eric
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          Even where I am, the fundamentalists would likely have a problem with the private classes. You could certainly hire a teacher to teach an all-girls class, but unless you’re really wealthy the class and teacher are going to share the rec center or community pool with other classes and swimmers at the same time – and if you tried to insist on girls only, the pool staff would likely just laugh at you.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    One of the many things I’m grateful of from my upbringing is that my parents didn’t become “born-again” (I’ve always hated that motto) until I was 6 and my brother 9. I think this simple fact spared me any serious damage. I was able to break free from the mind-prison of religion by the time I ended high school. My brother isn’t an atheist, he’s more an agnostic, but I’m glad he escaped too. He just has a little more work to do…but he’s not very curious and doesn’t read, so chances are he’ll continue being a harmless, innocuous agnostic.

    I’ve told my father as much, I could tell he wasn’t pleased. He was probably thinking, “if only I’d been a Christian before my kids were born.”

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    To follow our law as I understand it, the mixed swimming rules of the school must stand. Religious beliefs or practices do not belong in the schools and the school rules should be the law. As said in the post, go to a different school if you do not like it. I don’t know Swiss law so??

    It seems the Burqas vs. the hijab is the admitted difference between extreme and moderate. That is pretty much what the casual observer would think. Maybe this is just a good sign of things to come but I doubt it.

  6. Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Muslims declaring that other Muslims are not Muslims, I know of no other case where such behavior is called “moderate”.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Maybe he should say instead that those other Muslims are no true Scotsmen :-).

  7. rickflick
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always held out hope for the US that the public schools would free many children from too much influence by their parents. What parents teach their own children is relevant only to the parent generation. Things change. We learn more in each generation. Parents teaching their own children is a hazard since it makes culture static. The kids will grow up without socializing to the wider secular world. Home schooling is not a good idea. It is intellectual incest.
    I support the Swiss government. Integration and assimilation is the only way the extremists can be deprived of recruits.

    • Larry
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      This leads to many related issues, such as the role of “big” in society in various contexts. Big government. Big brother. Big business. Nationalism. Ethnocentrism.

      In other words, little decision making is left up to local communities, and there is no room for the “Mom and Pop” stores (as small, innocuous, neighborhood-oriented businesses are called in the U.S.).

      Like dictatorships, big vs little can be benign or malignant. In the U.S., centralization based the constitution has prevented or reduced local ignorance, such as state-promoted racism and secular repression. But at other times, such centralization has lead to war-making, genocide (think of Native Americans), and overthrowing other governments.

      • Diane G.
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        The US hardly has a choice regarding big vs. small government. Maybe if we’d gone a little more lightly with that manifest destiny thing…

        But you’re right, Big certainly has its drawbacks. Human societies aren’t really adapted for such huge populations when some kind of consensus needs to be arrived at.

  8. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    It *will* be important if it sticks. There are more and more requests for separation here in Sweden, and that ruling has been figuring in the political discussion.

    The requests are in religious schools where it can stick, but they aren’t many and their favoring separation will likely make new licenses non-existent so it won’t hurt children or hinder social integration much.

    And in public bathhouses, where separation has been ruled out during regular hours. Some bathhouses, like the large communal in my home town of Uppsala, has a weekly slot “to allow women to be taught swimming”. But apparently not allowing their families to be taught non-discriminatory behavior.

    • Tom Walvik
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      From Norway here, what i wanted to say doesnt have so much with seperation to do, but it does have something to do with islam, and religious garments. In Norway, a political party is thinking of banning the nicab (and possibly the hijabi). They think of banning the nicab in public governmental buidling, while they think of banning the hijab in primary and middle school.

      Its also interesting to note two more things about these religious garments of Islam: (1) In a lot of different professions/work places in Norway has let Muslims to wear their religious garments, while prohibiting any other workers to change the standarized work outfit. and the one and only reason for this is to let/”respect” muslims to wear there religious clothing. (2) a hairdresser in Norway denied service to a Muslim girl/women walking into her store, n a whole media debacle ensued. its in most of the major newspaper (including VG-probably the biggest 1). I disagree with the hair dresser though, she should cut her hair regardless of her religion, but now i saw that she is suing the hairdresser for an additional 50 thousand kroner for “discrepectful, and hurtful character assacination” (thats what the hijab wearing girl, and her layer calls it). i on the other hand have not seen these FB posts of the hairdresser (they werent reprinted in the newspaper), but i think that suing the hairdresser is uncalled for.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      What is a Swedish bathhouse like? Is it basically a swimming pool or other things too such as massage & sauna?

      P.S. I notice via google that Uppsala has the oldest swimming club in the world

  9. Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Before we make this particular issue about terrible primitive Muslim parents I want to point out that I don’t think forced, mix-sex swimming lessons would fly in most, if any schools in the US. Unless there has been some bit push towards co-ed in the last 10 years, when my daughter graduated high school, girls, and boys have separate gym classes. And I suspect a majority of parents would oppose that being changed.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Europe and Europeans are not so tight-ass as we Americans on these issues.

      • Tom Walvik
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        In Norway PE is not seperated between the sexes. However, I think it is fairly common to seperate girls and boys in middle school for swimming classes (in public schools). But this varies from school to school, disctrict to disctrict. I think i actually had swimming with the girls, but i am not sure.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          You don’t remember if you had swimming classes with the girls? 🙂

          • Tom Walvik
            Posted January 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            I honestly dont. Now, as well as when I wrote that comment I think I did, but as Ive learned from reading E. Loftus research on memory, memories can be very deceptive, and false, despite being very confident/sure that that happened!

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Maybe things have changed a great deal in the U.S. since I was in grade school and high school. It used to be that physical education classes never mixed male and female students.

      • Sastra
        Posted January 14, 2017 at 5:29 am | Permalink

        Yes, same here. I graduated high school in ’74 and all my gym classes — all gym classes — were segregated by sex.

        As for my children’s P.E. classes, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not sure. They graduated from public schools around the turn of the century. I guess I just assumed they were sex-segregated. I never asked, it never came up — not that I remember, anyway, though I think I would have noticed. They grew up in a small town in a conservative area, so it’s possible that the Old Ways prevailed. I will have to ask them.

        I’m so insulated from reality; I’m actually surprised to discover that gym classes today are co-ed — and apparently have been for quite a while. I hated gym; maybe that’s why I blocked out or skipped over or just never acquired this information.

        • Diane G.
          Posted January 14, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          I hated gym class too! My high school had a pool and we were required to take swimming, which I hated as well. Girls having their period were excused from swimming but had to sit outside and watch the class, thereby announcing their condition to anyone walking by and especially to the boys’ gym classes held at the same time…Like HS wasn’t crappy enough already…

          (This was in the 60’s. I remember being in the girls’ locker room when the news came through that Kennedy had been shot.)

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            I loathed ‘gym’. In fact at the start of the second year a friend and I – having noticed the gym teacher never took a roll-call – just cut it completely. We would sneak out to ‘the field’ and read books and watch the trains going by on the railway line the other side of the field.

            This worked for a term and a half until the headmaster strolled past one day and naturally asked us what we were doing. Our confession that we’d ‘cut’ gym class didn’t extend to mentioning the awkward fact that we’d been doing it all year. He referred us to the gym master to deal with and the latter, possibly slightly embarrassed that he’d never noticed our absence, chose not to make an issue of it and just said ‘don’t do it again!’.

            So, on balance, a big win!


    • darrelle
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I don’t recall any kind of PE classes in any US schools I went to that were sex segregated. Though I’ve no doubts at all that there always have been places where they are.

      By forced I’m guessing that the circumstances are that the class is a standard requirement and that the school is not going to exempt the Muslim girls from having to satisfy the requirement, or make special provisions to accommodate them, based on religious reasons. I doubt it means that the girls literally must take the class. Probably just that their record will show that they have not fulfilled a required class.

      I wonder, did the parents ask the school if they would consider allowing them to find, arrange and pay for acceptable private lessons themselves as an alternative to fulfilling the requirement?

    • Cate Plys
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      I went to Catholic school, and we sure had co-ed gym classes. I know of no co-ed Catholic school in all Chicago that didn’t have co-ed gym class–and all Catholic grammar schools here are co-ed. My kids went to secular private school, and all gym classes including high school were co-ed. My friends as a kid who went to public school also had co-ed gym classes. Ditto for the kids I know now in public schools. So I suppose there must be some schools that for no apparent reason separate the sexes for gym class, but I don’t think it’s a wide practice.

      • Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Very odd. I spoke with all three of my, and my wife’s kids who attended school between 1992 and 2008, and they all recall having separate PE classes in 3 different state Michigan, Massachusetts, and Alabama. My daughter’s recollection is slightly different in that the class was technically coed in that they went to class, and took attendance coed, but then split the modules based on sex. Boys would do Tennis while girls did gymnastics, and then while boys did swimming, girls would do field hockey, and so on throughout the semester.

        • rickflick
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

          In my part of New York, the kids are mixed for general PE classes up through high school. I don’t know about swimming classes. The school teams are segregated generally – only boys play football – but I don’t know if it’s a rule or that girls avoid it.Some activities may be segregated. The rowing teams are mixed.

    • Paul S
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I graduated in 1980 from a suburban Chicago public high school, we had co-ed PE class.

    • eric
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Its been several decades since I was in US public high school, but at the time we had a range of PE classes we could take. Some of them (like football) were for a single sex, but some of them weren’t. And some – like weightlifting – weren’t technically sex-separated but the boys tended to self-select for the class.

      That was before Title IX though. I suspect now that around my area, all classes are open to both men and women…but that self-selection still makes many classes 90+% one sex or the other.

      • Posted January 14, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        “That was before Title IX though. I suspect now that around my area, all classes are open to both men and women”

        I looked up Title IX after getting some feedback from my initial comment, and PE is the one case where segregated classes are allowed.

  10. Brian Salkas
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    If Muslims can use the “no true muslim fallacy” in reguards to terrorism and rape etc. Then what is to stop Nazis from saying “no true nazi” would participate in genocide, or a gas station employee from saying “no true gasoline” can be used to commit arson. Of course Islam is not as bad as Naziism, but if Muslims are allowed to make such bold asseverations, what is to stop other groups from doing the same? These are the same people BTW who always make it clear that Islam is not just “one thing”. I say if Islam is not just one thing, then it is spurious to claim that Islam is just peace.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Along the same lines, am I a True Atheist because, despite 50 years of unbelief, I say Merry Christmas and enjoy several forms of religious music?

      • Tom Walvik
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Well if thats the inclusion critera for “religious” or Christian in particular, i would b more religious than Ted Nugent, Billy Graham, and Rick Warren combined! Im not 2 big on Christimas though for a lot of different reasons, i agree with a lot of what Christopher Hitchens´ essays object to about the Christmas Celebration, but i am way into a lot of different religious music, most of them from the US. Have you ever heard of Bill Gaither (of Gaither Gospel Music series)? I cringe whenever I hear them speak, or give sergmens, or give thoughts on politics, because its all so inculcated and steeped in religious bullshit, its hard to watch. but the music is fucking top notch!

        Tom Walvik

  11. Bernhard
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    About 5 percent of the Swiss population is Muslim. But to my knowledge there are no Muslim schools in Switzerland. As you might know, last year a Swiss court ruled that Muslim schoolboys must shake hands with female teachers. – I think religion is like smoking: After a certain age (>20), almost nobody takes up the habit.

  12. Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I am always fearful that these sorts (the Swiss) of findings will result in simply pulling the children out of the public schools, which has negative effects for other reasons.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I fear the same, so I am on the fence.

    • Cate Plys
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      That’s often a reason given by proponents of hijabs and burkas for not restricting those items at all, anyplace–because women forced to wear them will simply be forced to stay home, and it would be better to get them out in the world. So I’ve thought about that quite a lot, because I hate to think of any women being further victimized that way. But any time I go over it, I finally have to come back to whether we would say the same thing about *all* objectionable religious practices–that we should allow them, because otherwise those people won’t mix with the general population. The same proposition doesn’t sound as good for, say, accepting open polygamy or other practices that liberals automatically understand is discriminatory and oppressive. So, I have to come down on the side of requiring all students to follow the same curriculum, regardless of religion, in public schools. That is not, actually, discriminatory–it’s equal and fair in a secular democracy.

  13. Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and as for same-sex vs. mixed phys. ed – I had three years (well, semesters over three years, really) of phys. ed in high school) in Quebec when I grew up. 1 was mixed (in grade 7) and two were single sex (in 8 and 9). This changed when my sister (2 years younger) went through and all three of those were single, IIRC.

    The twist was that at least in grade 8 I remember despite it being a single sex class, there was a girls class at the same time also for grade 8 as the boys class I was in (for the obvious scheduling reason, I assume) and we did do *some* activities together – I remember a mixed basketball game at one point. This sort of thing might be a compromise in some situations.

    With Quebec becoming selectively more “laique” I wonder what is done now!

  14. keith cook +/-
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    …they’re just learning to swim, perhaps it will save their lives one day at the very least a little exercise for young children, why all the crap?
    Religious gender discrimination is a barrel full of expletives.
    Sure in the gym there are routines for boys that girls don’t do and visa versa, but swimming? you either can or can’t either way for male or female, it’s sink or swim, fun in the pool or mouth to mouth resuscitation, what do you want?
    As for the burka sale, it is interesting that violence is the threat that’s demanding it’s banning (oh yea for violence) as opposed to reason and it’s misogynistic origins… women in sacks says it all.
    It shows a clear inkling that they bleeding well know that it is their religion that is inflicting misery even as they obfuscate and are in self denial.

  15. Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink


  16. BJ
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    “If I could make one rule for the world, it would be that no religious indoctrination would be given to children at all by their parents”


    I would like to ask: if such a rule was to be implemented, do you think it should apply to all rigid ideology, or only religious ideology? I would never support such a rule anyway, but I do abhor that people indoctrinate/brainwash their children with ideology, both religious and otherwise.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure about the mandatory mixed-sex swimming. A certain amount of women-only activity helps keep the sisterhood strong.

    I think there’re also benefits to male-bonding activity — although that benefit inures primarily to the individual men involved; I’m less certain that such activities benefit society at-large.

  18. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    ‘Frankly, I’m tired of moderate Muslims calling more extremists “not true Muslims.”’

    That is self-defeating, surely. If (almost) *all* Muslims could be convinced that the extremists were religious fanatics, the way most Christians regard fundamentalists, then the terrorist problem would surely ease.

    I just cannot see the point of boosting fanatics’ credentials by insisting that they’re ‘true [whatever]’.


    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      I am reminded of a quote from the film “Planet of the Apes” in which the head of the fundamentalist ape religion, Dr. Zaius, says

      “There is no contradiction between religion and science, TRUE science”.

      Now, while that is a fundamentalist position, the liberal/progressive religious fellow will say a la Karen Armstrong and Reza Aslan [though I relatively have somewhat more respect for the former]

      “There is no contradiction between religion and science, TRUE religion”.

      Now, replace science with anti-terrorism and correct for double negatives and say

      “There is no compatibility between religion and terrorism, TRUE religion”.

      You are thus 2 degrees of separation from the creationist argument.

      Now if you just said, “humanitarian religion”, or “non-creedal religion”, one might be onto something, but too many of the liberals have to claim theirs is “true religion”.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Basically I’m being pragmatic. I couldn’t care less which is the ‘true’ Islam (Sunni or Shia? – they can’t both be!)

        But if someone wants to claim that their moderate version is ‘true’ and therefore that terrorism is NOT ‘true’ I’ll go along with it, I certainly won’t do anything to undercut their argument, since the obverse is to legitimise the extremists. (And that goes for any religion, btw. They’re all wrong, but some variants are wronger – worse – than others).


        • JonLynnHarvey
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          Interesting point, but it is a harder argument to sustain.

          I grew up in super-liberal/progressive Christian churches. On some fronts one can debunk fundamentalism as not true Christianity, but on others it is harder.

          Liberal Christianity is saddled with at least 4 albatrosses: the genocide in the Old Testament, the Nicene creed, the apocalyptic elements of the New Testament-especially the Book of Revelation, and the fact that the epilogue of Mark’s Gospel (added a century later) is the one clear statement that unbelievers are condemned (at least after they hear Christianity preached).

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

            … and if some progressive Christian preacher says “Well, we know all that stuff was given credence in the Middle Ages, but no true modern Christian believes that stuff, we’re more into ‘love thy neighbour’ – that’s the _true_ message of Christianity” – I wouldn’t feel obliged to contradict him. Which is better – to tell him he’s wrong (and incidentally encourage the fundies) in the hope of exposing and destroying all Xtianity; or to encourage tolerance and moderation?

            I feel we’re arguing at cross purposes. I’d go along with the progressive’s polite fiction (even if I know it to be technically incorrect) for – what I see as – a better result for society.


  19. Diane G.
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink


  20. Syfer
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Lets just stop for a minute. Did you just endorse religious education?

    “They can, after all, send their children to Muslim schools, assuming there are such things in Switzerland”

    NO. If we want to live in a world of respect and freedom, religious education MUST be forbidden. I’m fine with schools having extra curricular activities that expand the knowledge of religion, but they should not be allowed to get exemptions from the curriculum. This includes classes that are NOT sex-segregated in the vast majority of lessons(I understand that for sports, though I do not endorse it), avoiding teaching about evolution

    Luckily, you did come to your senses later in the editorial.

  21. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Regarding swimming and swimming classes, we had no such thing in school. No pool Learning to swim was done at the public pool by signing up, paying a fee and taking lessons. Down at the pool built and run by the American Legion and as I recall, it was co-ed. This was the 50s.

  22. Gabrielle
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Growing up in Pennsylvania in the 1960s and 70s – we had coed gym classes up to 5th grade (11 years old), but from 6th grad on, the classes were separate for boys and girls. By that time, we also changed into gym uniforms for PE class and took the class from full-time PE teachers.

    I’m actually glad that the classes were not coed. I had enough trouble keeping up with the athletic girls, and would have had a horrendous time trying to compete physically against the boys. Plus, certain activities like gymnastics can’t really be taught coed.

    My favorite gym activity in grade school was square dancing.

  23. phoffman56
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    “..that no religious indoctrination would be given to children at all by their parents”

    I agree entirely with this by Jerry. See my explanation to Sastra about my lack of sympathy for the parents of children who decide to join ISIS in a previous recent discussion.

  24. Mike
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Good for the Swiss. I almost forgive them for their desecration of the Toblerone Chocolate Bar.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      HaHa nice one! Just about every food supplier I know of has pulled similar tricks with keeping packaging the same size, but reducing quality &/or weight

      For Toblerone it’s not the Swiss – blame the Chicago-based owners Mondelez International who messed with two weights, but only for the bars going to the UK market.

      They cited increased UK costs partly due to the pound exchange rate collapse over Brexit…

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