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The French Number – Connect to a random French person and talk about anything (thefrenchnumber.fr)
263 points by davinov on Aug 28, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 141 comments

When I first heard about Chat Roulette, I thought the idea was amazing. Imagine hearing about Chat Roulette in 1970, or better yet 1800! How cool. Get connected with random people anywhere in the world! The possibilities! I could talk about war with someone in pakistan, healthcare with someone in Britain, Chavez with someone in Venezuela, learn about cuisine they eat in Uruguay! Maybe I could make a new friend who'd I'd end up visiting some day.

But of course when I say Chat Roulette now, all of you probably just chuckle inside - because it's a good example of how anonymous things on the internet turn out (for those who don't know, Chat Roulette is pretty NSFW, with many nude men on it... breaking down borders, but not in the way I'd have hoped).

I hope services like this become successful as a way to break down borders and form connections across the world - but I'm not holding my breath.

Edit: Maybe I'm part of the problem because I guess I could say the same thing about having a digital personal assistant (Siri) - and I just end up just asking her things like "How many calories are in a cubic light year of butter"? (5.83 x 10^54 kcals for those on MyFitnessPal)

You paint a wonderful vision, but it'd also include Americans telling you how great Trump is and how they can't wait for him to get rid of Mexicans, Arabic men telling you about how it's totally fine to marry a 12 year old and for her to bear their children, French people going on about how muslims should all be imprisoned, etc ...

Of course if you're black, a woman, gay, or any other minority they'll be happy to insult and harass you for their entertainment.

And not to forget all the very mundane people who don't have much to tell you about except for their mind numbing day labor job and how they can't take care of their sick children.

The world is much less poetic and open minded than many techno utopians would like to think.

"The world is much less poetic and open minded than many techno utopians would like to think".

A short read on news stories or youtube videos reminds me of that. I'm nearly always disappointed. I'm one of those techno utopians. I had great hope for the internet 20 years ago. You know, folks broadening their minds, learning things, not being so racist, finding similarities between places, and so on. And while they have, to an extent, I'm still sorely disappointed.

It's more that these technologies have just widened the gulf between people who already cared about those techno utopian ideals, and the ones who never will under any circumstances.

> The world is much less poetic and open minded than many techno utopians would like to think.

The problem isn't the world, it's that you're assuming the rest of the world (including the western one) shares your values and aspirations of what should and should not be down to minute details.

One interesting long term experiment along the same lines provides the data point that if you have a couple million participants over a century or so, skew a bit older on average, eliminate anonymity, and erect a rather high IQ/financial barrier to entry, amateur radio is both much better behaved than most expect yet what little misbehavior exists is incessantly gossiped about.

It's an interesting data point for sure, but I'd argue the prerequisites you listed make the experiment quite different.

Better behaved in the sense that most everyone follows etiquette. But I wouldn't expect deep conversation there, unless it's about antenna design.

Well, the reason is simple.

A lot of middle- and upper class people expect to talk to middle- and upper class people in other countries.

And in that case, you’d likely get people living by the Knigge, and you’d get awesome results.

Sadly, our society has thrown out etiquette in the recent times.

I know what you're getting at, but the generalisations in your comment are astounding.

Wait, which part is bothering you?

The one third of girls in the Arab region who marry before their 18th birthday? [0]

Or the 36% (currently) of Americans who support Trump's policies? [1]

Or the roughly 30% of French people who support a presidential candidate [2] whose father and previous party leader was fined for asserting that gassing chambers in world war 2 were just a small historical detail? [3]

Not sure the right thing is astounding you here.

[0]: http://www.prb.org/pdf13/child-marriage-arab-region.pdf

[1]: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/clinton-leads-trump-5-points-reute...

[2]: http://www.sudradio.fr/Politique/Sondage-Marine-Le-Pen-au-2n...

[3]: http://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2016/04/06/jean-mari...

> but it'd also include Americans telling you how great Trump is and how they can't wait for him to get rid of Mexicans,

> Or the 36% (currently) of Americans who support Trump's policies? [1]

You are making a shortcut. There are probably various reasons why people favor a candidate, and you should not underestimate the "I hate the other one even more" factor.

> French people going on about how muslims should all be imprisoned

This is a preposterous statement. Even the FN's proposed policies is not about putting folks in prison, but to make them leave the country if they had the power to do so. Plus, French prisons are already over-capacity and most prison sentences are not applied because of that. Do you know what you are talking about or do you read tabloids?

Just a French guy who's lived 10 years in the US here. Yeah, they don't want to send the arabic kids to prison, they want to send them back to where they come from. Oh wait, they were born in France. Well, they want to send them somewhere, that's for sure.

I believe we may have gotten drunk together after a HN Kansai meetup last year, but my memory of the night's hazy.

>Yeah, they don't want to send the arabic kids to prison, they want to send them back to where they come from. Oh wait, they were born in France. //

That makes them French, not Arabic then.

The problem is somewhere in that distinction I imagine.

That the French wouldn't be so bothered if people came to France to be French and adopt the local manners and attitudes; instead people seemingly are coming to the liberal and liberated countries with a distant goal of making them as backward and oppressive as the countries they left/fled.

> That the French wouldn't be so bothered if people came to France to be French and adopt the local manners and attitudes;

Maybe the non-assimilators wouldn't come to France if the French had not gone to North Africa and convinced them that France is awesome[1] in the first place.

1. Majority of France's Muslim population comes from it's ex-colonies.

Holy shit, can't believe you're getting downvoted (comment is grey atm) just for pointing out France's colonial past. I don't know what's up with HN today.

I guess he doesn't get downvoted for stating that France had a colonial past, but for implying that the colonial past is an excuse for not integrating into the society you live in.

Not an excuse; rather, a contributing cause. Failed cultural integration is a global symptom, not a collective of individuals who consciously refuse to integrate.

what do you mean by not integrating?

part of the colonisers spiel to the colonised is aboyut human rights, freedom and liberty.

> That makes them French, not Arabic then. The problem is somewhere in that distinction I imagine.

Yes, precisely. To recap very roughly: France brought in a lot of cheap labor from North Africa (a lot of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) to rebuild and develop at low cost after World War 2. These immigrants were housed together, at the periphery of large cities (what are now known as "banlieues"). These neighborhoods still exist, and a lot of the children and grandchildren of these immigrants still live there. These areas are typically poorer than the cities they're next to, have poor education, higher crime rates, etc.

Of course, they're French citizens, but they don't feel particularly French because the rest of French society tends to look down on them and segregate them. And they might speak a bit of Arabic at home (or not), but they don't really feel Arabic because, well, they've spent their whole life in France, and even if they go to Tunisia/Morocco/Algeria/etc. a few weeks in the summer to visit extended family, people there don't see them as belonging there anymore.

It's a thorny situation.

You are not telling the whole story though. Immigrant workers in the first place were not supposed to stay forever but the whole situation changed when Mitterand introduced the Regroupement Familial to make it OK for their families to come and live in France. That accelerated the movement of people and that certainly did not help for them to integrate.

Yup, that's a good thing to point out. Certainly not the smartest move.

>> instead people seemingly are coming to the liberal and liberated countries with a distant goal of making them as backward and oppressive as the countries they left/fled.

I see this line in "liberal" countries and find it hypocritical.

Part of being liberal is the freedom to adopt any legal practices that makes you happy. If "liberal" countries think XYZ practices are backward or oppressive, make it illegal and file cases against people violating it.

Asking others to follow unwritten rules isn't fair.

Many liberals are unhappy that immigrants haven't integrated and by this, they want immigrants to adopt language, dress, food and religion(mainly Atheism) of the majority. It is hard to make these things illegal and still call yourself as a liberal.

>Part of being liberal is the freedom to adopt any legal practices that makes you happy. //

Yes, sort of.

Let's take a slightly extreme example - liberal societies outlaw slavery. Suppose I come to France and want to keep slaves; how hypocritical of the French to talk about liberté and not allow me to keep the slaves that I wish to keep.

I'm not sure it's true hypocrisy; it's just a innate part of liberalism that there are limits to the liberties allowed.

well it is outlawed, which mean illegal.. its illegal because it violates some aspect of freedom, liberalism or human rights..

so it is not hypocritical.

It is hypocritical to claim liberalism but outlaw a person right to wear clothing of their choice in public areas...

> Just a French guy who's lived 10 years in the US here

Yeah, you're probably the best person to talk about France then.

Just remember about 10% of citizens have been voting for FN for the past 30 years with little evolution one way or another (it has been getting a little more votes since the leader isn't the openly racist founder anymore, which is actually a good sign isn't it?). Also, judging someone on one of their parents is very bad form, would you also criticise people for voting for a candidate whose mother was a playmate?

The real difference, the reason why they are getting better scores than they used to, is that most moderate people are stopping voting altogether because the moderate parties are disappointing everyone is every way.

10% of citizens is too little IMO to generalise as "the French", especially if you're not even living in France.

> Also, judging someone on one of their parents is very bad form

Come on, she took over her dad's party very happily, you know very well that this argument doesn't apply here.

As far as popularity goes, we'll see what happens next year.

It seems that in your eagerness to comment, you missed on the fact that my original post never said that all French people supported FN - just that the French population includes a non trivial subset who do.

> Yeah, you're probably the best person to talk about France then.

I'm glad there are people on this forum who are the best person to talk about anything!

I've talked to plenty of perfectly nice individuals on Omegle in text mode. But it's not like people want to talk about deep topics right of the bat or at all. Perverts aren't to blame for that not happening. Given random people most won't even know as much as you do about their country's situation and whatnot. A 1 to 1 chat with a stranger is a really bad format for that kind of conversations too.

What you can do is, say, talk to a Syrian refugee about cats or pizza.

I'm curious if this issue could be resolved by moderation and reviews so that people that want to talk about similar things are paired up and trolls are blocked/isolated.

Or a rating system like how Uber works. I mean the idea of getting into a car with a random stranger isn't that awesome of an idea and yet it works. Maybe like "Perv: 3 stars. Politics: 2 Stars." So that people who want to talk to perverts could find highly rated perverts easily. Otherwise, you just talk to people who want to chat about general things.

The interesting part that I never knew about is that Uber drivers have access to a client score and (I believe) can also rate their clients after each ride.

Although they can't reject too many rides or risk being flagged in the system, at least this gives them the ability to pass on riders who have a bad score, which last time I found out about the rider rating score was anything less than 4.5 out of 5 stars[1].

Fortunately, for something that the French Number is offering, it doesn't seem that this would be a problem. Hopefully the offering remains uncorrupted in this sense.

[1] Anecdata warning: Based on a discussion I had with an Uber driver over several months ago.

'chat roulette' as it is now referred, actually worked reasonably well back in around 1997 when Mirabilis built the feature into their ICQ messenger

I used the feature quite a bit. I'm sure it eventually got taken over by predators and scammers, but it lasted quite some time.

Years before that there was microsoft netmeeting, which was built into windows.. and for some crazy reason it had a phone book listing of all of everyone using the app. You could open the phone book and call anyone anywhere in the world.

really it's just all about the balance of well-minded people, and perhaps as the internet grows and the barrier becomes lower for people getting online, the odds end up not working in favor of these sorts of things..

I view the idea of chat roulette much in the same light. I think it is cool in the purer sense of the service. Too bad those haven't really worked out in that sort of sense. And I have the same hopes, honestly.

Addressing the edit: That isn't the same sort of thing. Siri gives weird access to information. The idealized version of Chat Roulette (with actual conversation as the norm) gives human interaction, experience, and viewpoint that the digital assistants just can't seem to match yet.

U just wrote comment on international site. You are interactinwith people from all over the world all the time on international websites, idk what borders u tryingto break? Other than censorship and lack of iernet access.

This reminds me of #CALLBRUSSELS, a Brussels tourism initiative wherein anyone could call public phones throughout Brussels via https://call.brussels and chat about anything. There were live video feeds as well. IIRC this was in January, right around the time Trump and others were making negative comments, so it was meant to dispel concerns about safety in the city.

Here's an article discussing it in detail: http://www.ibtimes.com/callbrussels-new-tourism-initiative-d...

There's also some video content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRnybwEvQsU

There is also a phone number if you feel like talkin shit to a gangsta


FYI: That video doesn't end well. It includes footage of the airport bombing that happened there.

This is the real #CALLBRUSSELS video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL7hvXeOAKw

You linked to a troll version.

Seems inspired by the swedish number. http://theswedishnumber.com/

When we were obnoxious teens we would call two numbers (like the local McDonalds and Burger King) and then conference them together while we stayed on mute and listened in.

Kind of tempted to do it again...

lol, reminds me of my teen IRC days.

Wrote a bot that generated a name and joined a big public channel.

Stuff like jenny21 tina123 etc.

Then it spammed some generic greetings and waited.

"Hello, anyone wanna private chat?"

When someone started to talk to it it would start another private chat with another person choosen randomly and copy the messages of the first person to the second and vice versa.

Then it copied the whole conversation in a different channel.

Hilarity ensued.

sauce plz

sorry, did this like 13 years ago as a mIRC script. Nothing left from those days :D

That's what's sucks about data: it's pretty ephemeral. I have some code I wrote when I was little but only the good stuff. I wish I had the crap code and the code I wrote when I was learning so I could see what 12 and 13 year old me was really like.

Yesterday I found dvd-r with backup of my 'startup' project sources (entire repository). It was around '07-08, I was 20+. Should give it a try, hope I can survive after that many facepalms.

Sidenote to newcomers: burn them dvds periodically! (oh, no, ultrabooks...)

True story, but I guess most stuff I did back in the days could be replicated in >1h haha

I think you have that sign flipped, you're probably looking for < - "less than".

yes :)

I remember how much work I put into my Geocities site. Many many months. I look at it on the wayback machine now, I can bang that entire site out in about 2 hours now.

Yes but for comparison you would need to code something in Go that's really complicated now. At the time being a Geocities user put you in an extremely rare cohort, which is of course why they originally sold for a billion bucks. Those of us who used it were extremely valuable users from a long term point of view. The first people on the internet who made their own websites AND linked all of the relevant stories everywhere else on the internet.

Trust me, you really don't.

When I was a kid we used to phone people whose phone numbers were mathematically interesting. This was in the North-East of England (Sunderland), and we were often amazed at the responses. You'd ring some lady out of the blue and tell her that her phone number was a power of three, or something, and she'd say, "well is that right! I never knew. How interesting."

We always thought we'd just get told to bugger off. Rarely was that the case.

By some odd coincidence, I've since moved to the other side of the world but I sit and type this message in the old living room in Sunderland where many of those calls were made.

One side could be a funny youtube video talking, using https://dubdial.com/ [1]

1. Disclosure: I am one of the author

Absolutely! But I bet François Hollande won't be taking any calls (like the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven did [1]). :P

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S087OHdCG8I

Not really "inspired".

The website has been copied practically wholesale.

It really is impressive to see people making productive use of human loneliness, a sadly abundant resource.

They missed the opportunity to call it the Francophone, though.

> They missed the opportunity to call it the Francophone, though.

Yeah, if you only had to speak french with them, but I'm sure a lot of ppl in France know English by now or do they?

I'm almost tempted to try becoming an "ambassadeur téléphonique pour la France", but I would need an extra temporary number "à la google voice". I really don't trust them enough to let them have my real number, as they would probably sell it to the highest paying advertising company they can find.

dtmf.io could be a good way to give it a go without giving away your identity.

dtmf.io gives errors for every option ? 'We're sorry, an error occurred. Please try again soon.'

I just tried and it seems to work for me.

This used to exist for Sweden, at


Weird. I can't find any announcement or news article about why it closed down.

It was just a temporary tourism campaign. I rang and one of the things we talked about was the campaign and whether we thought it would increase tourism. The guy I was talking to only signed up because it was cool.

IIRC it was only ever temporary, a month (or something) long experiment/campaign/whatever it was.

I would love a service similar to this one but with a match making algorithm based on interests and/or self selected topics.

This way I could make a lonely commute a lot more interesting by calling a random person also interested in for example Ruby programming

There used to be a cool chat application Odigo I think, where you could search for random people based on Location. I used to practice my Spanish with people on that.

wow, I never though I'd come across a casual reference to Odigo on the internet (and it isn't from me). Gosh I loved Odigo -- met so many people that I eventually lost contact with. You could even talk to other people browsing the same website as you (interesting, of course, because I wasn't on any social networks -- mostly forums and metal websites).

Wakie (https://wakie.com/), the app that allowed you to set alarms and have random people call to wake you up, used to have this. You could choose a topic (from a set list) and get randomly connected to someone who chose it too. I haven't used it in a long time though, no idea whether it still has users.

> this fonctionnality is offered to you only if you call the plateform via a special number - see if your country is in the list

Classic French English "mistakes" on the page.

It's the French touche.

I must say... touché.

French here, i don't see the mistakes, can you explain?

I guess it's 'functionality' ?

functionality, platform...

on the list (instead of in the list)?

OK... french guy here and yep I gonna rant as french usually do

I don't really have any problem with the concept/idea (if there is an idea in the first place)

but why oh why someone in 2016 thought it was a good idea to call a phone number ?

"The call will be charged as an international call" I mean WTF?

did those guys ever heard of all the way you can connect people on the Internet for free ?

Really if I can stream live a gaming session on Twitch or whatever I should be able to, at least, use bit of that tech to talk for free without having to use an actual phone number right ?

I don't know... something like random Skype or random gtalk or random whatever chat that support voice ...

crazy idea right ? instead of using phone lines let's transfer voice over the Internet ...

so they "rely on digital innovation & UXs to promote tourism in France", so sure let's use phone numbers and pay international charges right ?

and let's make an horrible front page design while we are at it, here the concept put the french flag color everywhere: blue, white, red, simple!

It's look "cute" like that but please the clichés all over the place, like "Our Telephone Ambassadors commit themselves to speak in English (with the French accent of course!)" ...

oh and let's write "French" as a reverse hashtag eg. frenc#, that will make us French look so cool ...

134 calls since July 18? (And how many of those, I wonder, occurred in the last hour for which it's been on HN and accrued 81 points..)

So far I'd say it's probably not justifying it's cost/effort. I don't really understand why the Swedish one (which I understand to be the original) was made - but I understand clones even less. Is it just PR; does the tourism company behind it really think it will be effective?

I would say the Swedish number was an big success and very cost effective pr campaign compared to normal advertising. And that is why France trying to do the exact same thing.

It's not easy to get peoples attention in the media noise, but the Swedish number was something different and new an got viral globally.

Over 190.000 got so interested they actually interacted and called, many millions have read about it. People called from 186 different countries, so the campaign spread to almost every country in the world. People talked combined for more than one year.

To get such attention globally and so many to interact is really worth a lot, you could not have paid for that in normal ways you do pr.

By the way… I guess the Swedish number also could have been inspired by one of the official swedish twitter accounts [1] that is curated by a new Swede every week [2]. It got alot of attention when released, so I think they got inspired on that idea. My guess tho.

[1] https://www.twitter.com/sweden

[2] http://curatorsofsweden.com/about/

As a telco you can actually take a profit from incoming calls. I am not sure if you are allowed to be the called party in this case though. I remember similar services here in Germany that regularly had to change numbers because they got blocked by the callees services provider too.

Tried this, it was lots of fun. Talked to a 19 yr old student learning English. His English was excellent. Every one should try it. I used google voice. It cost me 8 cents for about 5 mins, not sure of the time.

Reminds me of this. Brazilian kids learning English by talking to US seniors, who love the company:


This will be helpful for people like me that want to improve their French language skills. I started studying French four years ago or so and during the first two years the learning curve was painful because this language is not very popular in my country, so socializing in order to practice the skills gained in class was mostly between the same classmates. I wish this project was launched during that time though, but better late than sorry.

Try Tandem. It's an app that connects you to language learners. So you'd help a French person learn English, and they'd help you learn French. They have both text and video chat so if you're not ready for video chat, you can get stronger by text. It's a really well done app!

How long has this been out for? Just downloaded it and it's everything I dreamed that Chatroulette could be.

I first used it in December.

You can probably find people on Skype to chat with in French; if not for free then for a really small money.

My email is in my profile. Feel free to contact me, in french or english, if you want to talk.

Do I have to speak French?

[UPDATE] Ah, I see the answer is on the site: no.

I'm definitely going to do this and have a little fun, although I'm not sure that's the intended purpose #cestlavie

Presumably calling this number from a U.S. number (Verizon in my case) would incur lots of long distance charges, no?

EDIT: Just read the disclaimer:

> The call will be charged as an international call. Please check with your phone operator what your calling rates for France are. You may prefer to call from a special number (see if your country is on the list).

2c a minute using google voice i think

Neat idea!

Added ten bucks of credit to my Google account, then feverishly dialed the number... "You are about to be connected to a random French." Ooh, how charming. Upbeat hold music, then silence. "Hello?" I call out. Then, my call is dropped. DISAPPOINT.

According to the site, they've only had 150 calls since July 18th

I've always wanted something like this with full two way translation that worked. That would be a great way to learn how other people live their lives without the wall of language.

This is pure gold. Thanks for giving me this. I will enjoy talking to random people and improve my conversation skills, plus I will get to know more French. Again, this is gold.

"Hello, France? Which way does the water turn in your toilet?"

As an Australian man travlleing the US for a few months half a decade ago, I was genuinely puzzled by the very high water level in some of America's toilets - so high that sometimes you have to hold your undercarriage up to keep it from getting wet when sitting.

I asked several locals during my visit about how to deal with this oddity, and all I ever got was laughter. I still don't know what the supposed method is... :)

Simpsons reference?

Sorry, I couldn't help it. I realize the number of people who get Simpsons references is falling into endangered territory.

"Your call may be recorded."

Non merci.

Whoever named this should be fired for missing out on calling it "The French Connection"

That'd probably be a trademark infringement. FCCN is a pretty well established clothing company with the same name.

Unlikely. The standard for infringement in the US (likely similar w/EU via treaties and the like) is that it's confusingly similar and in relation to products or services similar to the products or services covered by the trademark.

Exactly. That's how the clothing company could use the name after the film with the same name was released.

That's an interesting grey area, I think. The film title trademark was applied for and awarded [76238315], but if I created another film called "The French Connection" with an unrelated, original story -- would it be infringement? Only if indeed their original trademark was considered valid and if my film were confusingly similar.

Their application states "...G & S: series of motion picture films... featuring live-action entertainment. ..." It actually is a series (did you know they made a sequel? I didn't). So it's probably a legit trademark.

But if my film were a romcom set in Paris, I suspect they'd be really challenged to make the case. The defense should probably cite the countless films with identical titles made over the years. Even if many/most of them weren't trademarked it probably still hints that there won't be confusion.

They used to be FCUK in the UK (maybe they still are).

The domain probably costs to much.


frenchconnection.io is available: https://www.nic.io/go/newfast/frenchconnection.io

If people write cards instead, it could be called the "French Letter" (but that has a different meaning to British people).

"Um, bonjour. Est en cours d'exécution de votre réfrigérateur?"

The pun actually does work in French, amusingly enough, although in French one says that working devices are "walking" (marcher) rather than "running" (courir).

Bonjour. Est-ce que votre réfrigérateur marche ? // Oui... // Ben il faut aller l'attraper alors !

Apparently french ambassadors are supposed to speak english.. Maybe I'll try, just to get some english speaking training..

What's your mother tongue?

Cool initiative.

Btw, that blue (#000099) with white is so disturbing.


Please don't make cheap jokes that can only take the thread wildly and predictably off-topic. It's not worth it, and it isn't OK on Hacker News.


In my experience French people are much happier to talk politics than Americans. Possible they are sick of hearing about burkinis right now though.

the burkini ban was issued by a few mayors and strongly rejected by the judicial system. most french people could not care less.

It's so yesterday, it's racist restaurants now.


Talk like this makes me ashamed of my country. I'm not particularly patriotic in the first place, but at least when the Paris attacks happened and one of Hollande's first reactions was to say immigration policies would not change, I was proud. When muslims, atheists and christians stood together after the attacks, I was proud. Seeing this demoralizes me.

I'm an agnostic. You talk about how "backwards" various things are. You talk about freedom. Yet you are the one imposing dress code.

To make a parallel to the world of tech, it's a lot like those "cool startups" where "we don't make you wear a suit & tie", but if you show up without jeans people look down on you.

Let people dress however the hell they want already. I don't care if you're wearing a cross necklace and I certainly don't care if you're wearing a giant shirt & cap with a picture of jesus and "I LOVE JESUS" written on the back. And you comparing a traditional clothing to a crusader's robe "that killed hundreds of thousands" is... honestly the most repulsive thing I've read on HN this month.

Our women are free, yes. They're free to dress however they want. And if they want to cover themselves head to toe, they're free to do so. Muslim women are especially modest, and see their hair as private. Some women see their legs as private - we're not banning stockings.

You don't get to talk about freedom any more than americans do when they parade around bombing countries to "export their freedom", as you so nicely put it.

Although I agree with you on the matter of burkini I think the "let people dress however they want" argument is a common fallacy amongst people who defend the burkini that disturbs me.

In France (and other countries) we have already been setting specific legal rules on how to dress : for instance it is illegal to wear nazi uniforms or svastika (unless for historical reason). Note that this is for the sake of the argument, to say that there is no such thing as an absolute freedom on how to dress and some reasons may explain that. If a clothing does not respect the conditions then I don't care wether or not it is a religious clothing and disappoint the believers.

What are these conditions ? There is a safety condition : if a clothing put public safety in danger then it should be banned period. The burqa and niqab ban (late 2010 in France) falls into this one. And I am not talking about terrorism but everyday life : you are supposed to live in the public space with your face uncovered that's all. The burkini and hijab are obviously fine with this.

There is a secularism reason that is invoked by some people and officials for the burkini ban and indeed I find it to be hypocritical since it is more of a circumstance decision (and there are other things than that to do to fight terrorism but whatever) and it can't be justified by secularism which only restricts civil servants clothing. If people want secularism to apply to civilian in the public sphere why not but it must be clear (define precisely what is ostentatious proselytism) and consistent : if we are to ban hijab we must ban kippas and nun's "outfit" too.

Then there is the ideology propaganda and morality question. To say that there is nothing wrong with the burqa is hypocritical too, because it has been and is still a mean to oppress women (watch the numerous photos of women burning burqas recently in Syria or read "Bas les voiles !" by Chahdortt Djavann if you need to be convinced). Stating that "yes maybe in the Middle-East women are forced to wear it but I am in France and just want to decide what to wear" is like saying "yes I know the Nazis ideology is awful but for me the svastika is just a peace symbol from India and I want to wear it because I like it". Ok maybe you are a genuine and sane person but as a natural person evolving in the public space the clothes you wear don't affect only yourself. Ideologies don't stop at boarders.

Criticizing this way of forbidding clothings may make sense from an american point of view where people can wear ku klux klan dress freely. But it is not absurd and not automatically discriminatory in a more european or french spirit.

I would really like to invite you to speak to muslim women about this. Ask them their opinion about the veil - the ones that wear it. Ask them why they wear it. Ask them how they would feel about removing it in public.

I'm absolutely in favour of removing female oppression from middle-eastern culture. This is not the way to go about it. I have seen that oppression, second hand, and I despise it... this burqa bullshit is such a red herring, it honestly upsets me so much time is wasted on it. These are societies where there is very little personal freedom, especially for women, and people want to remove one of the freedoms they do have.

And yes, I can see the point re nazi/KKK outfits. My personal opinion on that aside, we're not talking about a handful of people wearing a certain cloth in order to make a political/xenophobic point. We're talking about millions of people, following their faith. Entire countries.

Here's the catch: I dislike burqas. I do think they are a symbol of control rather than faith. But this isn't about my opinion, it's about the right for these women to choose to remove it by themselves rather than have a bunch of ignorants make that choice for them (sounds familiar?). They can wear it, they can burn it, it is not my place to say.

Exactly, unfortunately there is a blantant lie in France, propagated by our politicians and most of the mass media, for more that twelve years.. Its about secularism implying that religious signs should be banned from the public space.. In fact it is exactly the opposite.

I just hope that the wise decision from the "conseil d'état" (roughly the french supreme court) ended this joke...

Apparently our politicians like Manuel Valls don't agree they want less and less freedom and human rights..

They're the first to show no respect to secularism, when they express public views regarding religions, publicly participate in religious events, and when they try to meddle with religions (ie: fondation des oeuvres de l'islam en france).

A lot of racist hypocrits only care about animal rights when it comes to the muslim ritual slaughtering, and the women's right but just about islamic clothing.. Today secularism is too often anti-muslimism in disguise..

Politicians want the votes from racists, and/or are too happy to divert us from their failure, betrayals, corruption, unkept promises etc.

Caring about animal's/women's rights only when it comes to ritual slaughter/honor killings seems a lot more ethical than claiming to care about them except when it comes to ritual slaughter/honor killings. The latter seems more common among leftist Islamic apologists.

Listening to both sides, trying to understand them, work on a short-term compromise while simultaneously setting bases for a long-term real solution -- such is a path to enlightenment.

Dismissing someone's opinion on an emotional pretext, pretending the problem doesn't exist because the initial condition was ill-formulated -- is not.

How much of reactions of French commenters here are due to the complex of french people working abroad (or with people from abroad) -- always feel the need to justify and defend France?

Emotions are a by-product of a brain metabolism. Please, let us leave this sort of defense to the Constitutional Court, it has been doing a pretty good job at it, France still is a free country.

I was about to to make a pretty sarcastic comment on this thread, about how you probably only want to call "The French Number" if you are a white christian/atheist.

As a non-white individual whose general group is a target of the sort of attacks you are defending against: thank you. Thank you for not thinking that we (and ALL our predecessors) are (were) incapable of self-reflection, or that we all think (thought) the same way because we "look the same".

Vicious comments like that are spreading from the cesspools of reddit and 4chan to a much broader audience, and it can be demoralizing...but that's only if one forgets that most people actually think like you or me.

The world will be okay.

As a french, I agree. Much talk only to assert the fallacy that someone disallowed to dress like she want could possibly be "more free".


Should I have? We're talking about how people can dress. And how does terrorism factor into dress code, anyway? I thought HN was a site where we could dispense from the "x for the children" / "x against the terrorists" rhetorics.

This is the logic I'm getting from you - and please, do correct it if I'm getting it wrong: "Some terrorists are muslim. Muslim women wear hijabs. Hijabs therefore remind you of terrorism."

Need I really explain how that logic is harmful? Does arabic script remind you of terrorism too? What should we do about that?


La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Laïque. Laïcité works both ways - religion stays out of the government, and the government stays out of religion.


> Maybe you drink his cool aid to fast

I stay out of french politics (american ones are just so much more entertaining right now) and I have no particular love for Hollande, but his response to the Paris attacks is burned into my mind because it was the first time in a long time I felt proud of my country and president.

I think this article gives a better justification for the thoughts behind ban than the simplistic way that you describe it:


The ban is extremely complex and I am not talking about its justifications - I am talking about GP's.

> And how does terrorism factor into dress code, anyway?

Here our opinions diverge. I think the dress code is like a flag (or a svastika, like @Rasco explained). You defend it isn't. I think a good part of Muslims identify with anti-French causes. You think nothing is going on. I think there's a link between the niqab, the burkini, 8 terrorist attacks by Muslims, Köln's massive "spontaneous" rapes and my 8-years-old goddaughter's rape by a Muslim, all within 2 years. You say there isn't any such relation. I say I'm seeing thousands of Muslims in the street today with conservative outfits they weren't wearing 3 months ago. You say it's peaceful. If all you say is right, then how come we've had terrorist attacks? How can we make sure the niqab/religious support is peaceful?

Well, are Muslims at war against France? Let's see:

Our president chose to say "we are at war" in his speech, like Bush said in 2001. Such as USA in 2001, our country has then decided to destroy each other with racist restrictions and weapons. You say you agreed with "his response to the Paris attacks". I don't. There was another discourse he could have made about "How all French people are going to gather to help poor schools in the suburbs, which happen to be partly Arabic, so we starve off candidates to terrorism - and when there's equal chances for everyone then we'll be safe from terrorist attacks." I think this would have been more efficient for our taxes and more socialist from him. But Hollande didn't tell those words. He chose to say "we are at war against terrorists" and "we're going to spend 6 billion euros on police". See the difference. I didn't decide the war. But the French people massively gathered behind the president like you did, and you didn't say anything (at least, statistically, only 0.003% of you were there) when 3200 Muslims were house-arrested during the État d'Urgence. I was here to demonstrate, but no-one listened to the peaceful camp who wanted more education for poor people (including potential terrorists). Conclusion: I don't know whether the Arabs of France are at war against the whites, but I know France is at war against Radical Islamists, which is a very badly scoped subset of the Arabic population, so if I were Muslim I would feel threatened anyway. So it's totally plausible that random Muslims identify with the Islamist cause, and even moreso those who were agitate Muslim signs on the street.

So, yes, we are at war. Now is the dresscode related to religion and is the behavior related to that war?


Last thing. You say:

> I stay out of French politics

> I have no particular love for Hollande

> I'm an agnostic

Let me address this fallacy. I've seen enough people to see a pattern. People who claim this also believe they are very neutral and moderate. But their opinion is strong and dismissive of others. For example you qualified my opinion as "shameful", you probably often dismiss others' opinions as "stupid". For example what did you say for the Brexit? Let me guess that you qualified voters as "fascist", or you assumed they were too old to think right, or too deep in the countryside to have education. Well maybe you could leave the possibility that they've made the vote they indeed wanted to, based of their own very sound reasoning, and that they;re neither shameful, fascist, stupid, senile nor are rednecks. Maybe others have a right to live and have decent opinions that are different than yours, don't you think?

You may have built this "I'm center and neutral" opinion through many means. For example you may have the feeling that Le Nouvel Obs or Le Monde are neutral magazines and that Le Monde Diplomatique gathers interesting articles from all opinions around the world. But those 3 examples go from leftish (only criticizing Hollande when it's unavoidable) to extreme-left (Le Monde Dipomatique hasn't quoted an article teaching about economics in years, except to paint bankers as thieves and crooks). If you've been in public schools too, then you've been taught all your life by leftish teachers. So this leaves very little room for accepting the existence of valid opinions in other people.

The other side is that in France, beyond what I believe is a djihad, there is also the ambient anti-Christianism that is everywhere, which I'm not sure you're aware of. It may look innocent but when I say I'm a Christian, I've been countless times talked about how "cruisades" or "inquisition" are bad, or I've been answered that "You're Christian, fine, but I'm not, because priests rape children. I completely tolerate your religion, though." - which you don't. Christians in movies are always depicted as stuck-up, and depicted as conservatives in all public litterature. This is where tolerance stops: France has been intolerant about Christians for long, and so-said "agnostic" French people err between not defending us and throwing more prejudices at us. But of course you're all arms up when it's about defending Muslims.

So is niqab about defending the right of Muslims to bring their traditions to France, including the right of Arabic people to burn the French flag or praise terrorism? I say yes. You say no. Let's vote.

I don't have time to delve into this too deep, and your post is a bit fractured, so I'll try to reply to the general points - you can email me if you want to continue this off-thread.

First of all, please let me rid of you this opinion that I attend to any of france's political culture. The last time I read the Nouvel Obs was over almost two decades ago, because my father was reading it. I give very, very little attention to french politics and generally care only about European (EU) or American issues. The EU gave me a right to choose my country, so I left mine to find better ones.

Now, I didn't call your opinion shameful, I said I was personally ashamed of it. There is a lot of personal experience that goes into that. I was raised as an agnostic, in a catholic/atheist family. I have made muslim friends and fell in love with one. I've experienced, left and right, religious discrimination against my friends without understanding why people cared to be so hateful. I know by now what that discrimination looks like and I can form an opinion of others without having to hear their story at length. Reading this reply of yours reinforced all the assumptions I made. So yes, I was dismissive.

You are also confusing two things: Islam, and extremism-through-islam. I don't defend extremism.

My opinion on the subject is strong because I despise seeing this xenophobia (here used as, fear/hatred of "the different"). I believe this xenophobia is the root of terrorism. Not islam. Islam may be a vehicle for extremist terrorism, but xenophobia is the fuel that keeps it running. It's convenient for people to pick various parts of the Quran, a massive book, to point and laugh at and say "look how backwards and hateful this is". It's easy to do that with any old book, the Bible just as well; the roles could be reversed and the terrorism would work much the same way. Most religions have the same attributes, yet the west is only ganging up on Islam because it's easy, it's a minority and it's different enough. It also gets that disgusting patriotic hard-on going for the warmongering kinds.

I don't see people calling for a ban against christians when gays get shot in the name of jesus. That little "anti-christian sentiment" you're seeing, do you realize it's a reflection of the anti-muslim sentiment everywhere right now? Do you realize muslims are dying in their home countries, and being massively discriminated against in christian countries? There's a few orders of magnitude difference between those. "Christians are always depicted as uptight in movies" -- really? How about "Muslims are always depicted as terrorists"?

And seriously, you need to stop projecting this bullshit on people defending muslims. I'M not shitting on christians. I'M not the one calling "all christians uptight". I'm defending a bunch of fucking innocent people against what is currently a near-worldwide persecution. I'm not saying "let them into the countro so they can blow shit up", I'm saying "let's not prevent 50% of all muslims from wearing what they want to wear". Fuck. In fact, I didn't say anything against christians, yet here you are talking about how persecuted christianism is. Give me a break.

It baffles me that you complain about anti-christian persecution and are completely oblivious to your own position against muslims. Please do some serious self-reflection here.

Here's the deal: I don't care that you're a christian and I don't care what you're wearing. If people were calling you out, telling you not to wear your "I love jesus" shirt, I would be shitting on their insane logic all the same, and you'd be up in arms about your freedom of speech and clothing. This is my position, and it's consistent with Islam. You should be consistent as well -- if you want people to treat you with respect, then treat others with that same respect. Your religion, no matter which religion that is, doesn't get a free pass over another just because it's "yours". Your free speech doesn't get a free pass over somebody else's free speech.

That's exactly what I wanted to demonstrate. You say nothing when Christians are attacked, because (you believe) Muslims have it worse. Yet, Muslims have all leftish French people on their side.

> do you realize it's a reflection of the anti-muslim sentiment everywhere right now?

I didn't have an opinion on Muslims until a guy raped my goddaughter. Turns out he was Muslim. Bad luck for Muslims! Bad luck, really. Bad luck, or was it because she's the white child of French people? Is it his way to do djihad, at his level? Why would he djihad against me, while I was giving him free programming lessons so he could get a good job and avoid discrimination when he grows up? or is it just bad education from his parents? It echoed very hard with the Köln events. Is rape about bad education on a massive scale? Is it due to poverty, religion or simply traditions?

The answers don't matter. I've done my share. Muslims aren't as peaceful as you depict them. They don't clearly reject terrorism. A lot of them are hateful against France. If you don't acknowledge that, you're naive. There are few exits. Either they restore trust by participating positively to society, either we vote more and more extremist, have riots and racism and France will be in flames at the end of 2017.

What's more, if Muslims rejected extremism, would it be smart to buy a burkini today?

The only thing you demonstrated is that you read what you want to read. I said my attitude is equal regarding Christians.

And that you haven't learned correlation vs causation. And are extremely prejudiced.

As the death of Adam Traoré, and Sarkozy aiming for presidential bid..

The question was about burqini, and you disgressed a lot..

Not to be confused with Burkina Faso which is incidentally a francoPHONE country (most puns intended)

So do they use burkini?

That would imply talking in French... so no, thanks.

The French or doing anything they can to revive there stalled and dismal tourism Industry that is suffered from the Islamic terrorist attacks and over bearing waves of "Muslim refugees" who have harassed tourists, actually, Muslim terrorists who mowed sightseers down with a semi truck on basil day.

If you want to go to places where there hasn't been any terrorist attack nearby, you don't have many places to go to left.

Irrational fear, a car accident is the far more likely option to die.

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