Wednesday 26 January 2022
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Airbnb roped in to counter Islamist separatism in France?

Faced with a furore that the misreading of a Monde report led to, Airbnb, the leading platform for the rental of accommodation between individuals, responds

Is the interior ministry about to start a cooperation with Airbnb in order to “identify individuals renting villas with swimming pools to organise single-sex swimming pools for women” in France? Widely commented on social networks, this allegation is taken from an article in Le Monde published on 10 January, taking stock of the arsenal put in place by the authorities to fight against Islamist separatism.

Once spotted, it led to several misgivings in French society. And for good reason: if such information, taken from the horse’s mouth, were confirmed, it would clearly be a question of a characterised drift of the French state, which in this case has no right to interfere in the organisation of bathing in the private sphere.

Faced with a of requests from indignant Internet users who denounce what is akin to a manifestation of Islamophobia, the global platform for renting accommodation between individuals has come forward and the company could not have been clearer.

“Discrimination has no place on our platform. Airbnb has had no such discussions with local authorities, and does not intend to engage in this type of collaboration in the future,” the company clarified on 11 January on social networking sites.

A formal denial by both parties

Too crazy to be true? For its part, Le Monde went on to write, on the night of 10 January, the newspaper carried edited its article after a “formal denial of the company Airbnb and the Ministry of the Interior (France) of any collaboration in order to prevent private bathing unmixed”.

The mention of this “future cooperation”, one of the most problematic if it were to be initiated one day, was thus deleted to make way for this sentence: “We were thus able to hear a senior official being moved by the fact that private individuals circumvent republican principles by renting villas with swimming pools to organise single-sex swimming pools for women.”

Is it against the spirit of democracy to allow women to swim in the absence of members of other sexes? As the newspaper recalls, “as much as the of municipal swimming pools for specific audiences for religious reasons is not legal, the organisation of private single-sex swimming pools is neither a matter for the nor for justice”.

Translated from different French newspapers by Surajit Dasgupta

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