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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Summer camp monitors from Gennevilliers - suspended and then reinstated

The case of four temporary instructors sacked and then reinstated by Jacques Bourgoin, the mayor of the town of Gennevilliers in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, is one that has made both the domestic and international news.

Jacques Bourgoin (screenshot from AFP video)

And you could be forgiven for believing that on the face of it, Bourgoin's decision appeared to be one that, in the words of the Conseil français du culte musulman (French council of the Moslem faith, CFCM) was "an attack on religious freedom".

After all the headlines such as "Sacked over Ramadan fast" or "French Moslem suspended in Ramadan fasting row" certainly gave that impression.

There's no doubt that Bourgoin's U-turn to reinstate the four men in an effort to "avoid controversy" was more than a little late as the damage had been done.

But looking at the background to the decision, you can see that while he undoubtedly mishandled what was after all a sensitive issue and one bound to "raise indignation" once it became part of the public domain, Bourgoin had the best interests of the children at heart

Briefly, the four men had been employed as monitors to accompany children from the town to a summer camp in southwestern France.

They were sacked on July 20, the first day of Ramadan, after inspectors paid a visit, discovered they were observing their fast and, "not respecting the terms of their contracts in a way which could have endangered the physical safety of the children for whom they were responsible."

In other words, as far as Bourgoin and Gennevilliers' councillors were concerned, by not eating or drinking the men couldn't carry out their jobs properly.

And Bourgoin surely had good reason and didn't want a case of history potentially repeating itself.

Because in 2009 during a similar summer camp involving children from the town, a monitor fell asleep behind the wheel of the minibus in which they were travelling, causing an accident and seriously injuring one child.

She - the monitor - too had been fasting.

Of course there's the valid argument put forward by the CFCM president Mohammed Moussaoui that worldwide, "Hundreds of millions of people fast during Ramadan every year without it having a detrimental effect on their ability to work."

But equally, Bourgoin had a moral and legal obligation to ensure the well-being of children in the council's care and simply didn't want to take the risk.

A tricky one - not helped by the way in which it was handled - or reported.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's sack all the people that eat meat on Fridays!

(jocking of course).

I thought this country was "le pays de la liberty"!


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