Monday, January 15, 2007

Mecca LaaLaa - Burqini Babe!

This year sees the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the first surf club, at Bondi beach, in 1907. This week should see the arrival of the first Muslim surf life savers as part of a wonderful initiative by Surf Life Saving Australia to broaden its membership. It was only in 1980 that women surf life savers were admitted. They now account for 40% of membership.

It is also part of a campaign, called On The Same Wave, assisted by a $600,000 government grant to recruit Australians of Middle Eastern heritage to try to rebuild community relations following the Cronulla riots in December 2005.

Mecca Laalaa, 20, is one of a group of Muslims hoping to become a life saver following completion of a ten week training course in November. She is unable to wear a bikini so a local Lebanese designer came up with a novel idea, the burqini - a full-length lycra suit complete with built-in headscarf. The suit does make swimming more difficult but hopefully not significantly so.

The SLSA's national development manager, Chris Giles, commented,

"With the growing level of multiculturalism, we risk becoming irrelevant.'"

No Chris. It's called assimilation, the diamteric opposite of multiculturalism.

Good luck with your surf exams, Mecca.