Swimmers are told to wear burkinis

Under the rules, swimmers – including non-Muslims – are barred from entering the pool in normal swimming attire. Instead they are told that they must comply with the “modest” code of dress required by Islamic custom, with women covered from the neck to the ankles and men, who swim separately, covered from the navel to the knees.

I am sure many remember this article from the Telegraph from 2009 describing how British swim centres are coming under Sharia law – all at taxpayers expense.  I went back and read this piece again since it had been on my mind after taking my son to a swimming gala held by Swim Ulster.  It reminded me of my times in Muslim majority countries where most things were gender segregated and what we would see as normal social interaction is virtually non-existent.

It also reminded me of a business meeting I had in Freetown Sierra Leone with a Lebanese businesswoman (dressed in Western clothing) refused to shake my hand when the meeting concluded.  This surprised me because Muslim women that do not adhere to Islamic dress codes usually have no problems with shaking the hand of a man.  I talked to the friend that introduced me (a Muslim himself) what the issue was and he just laughed and commented that she was torn between Islamic culture and western culture and felt the clothes were acceptable, i.e. no head covering, but the handshake was going too far.

When you travel you expect such things and even in the UK you expect it when you see a Muslim woman adhering to Muslim dress code.  What you don’t expect in the UK, or in Europe, is that the Muslim dress code being imposed on non-Muslims in a public setting.  We have the attitude that if a person wants to dress in a certain way go for it (if it is their own choice and not imposed on them by peer or family pressure).  What we don’t expect in the UK is that publically funded facilities enforce Muslim dress code on anyone.

After all Sharia law is not the law of the land the last time I checked.  Yet we see this increasingly more common and we must ask the question where does it stop?  For example, am I going to be told that I can’t put ham in my children’s lunches because it would offend Muslim pupils?  It is already happening in some parts of the UK and do we expect it to spread as the influence os Sharia law increases in the UK?

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Rambler
Lived and worked in Muslim-majority countries for over 12 years while working in the international development sector as a senior director/manager. This included South East Asia, East, and West Africa (including the Horn of Africa), the Middle East and Afghanistan. Main interests in life is the study of Political Islam and how this has interacted with non-Islamic civilisations, especially Judeo-Christian civilisations, in history and currently.

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