This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Muslim rules at swimming pool

Muslim rules at swimming pool - Comments

Muldanian's Avatar Comment 1 by Muldanian

Perhaps your local swimmiing pool should have a day a week which is just for Muslim women. Yes, Muslims have different ideas of right and wrong, but it really is unfair for them to impose their ideas onto others, just as it is wrong for anyone of any religion to demand others fall into line with their views. Or perhaps the Muslim community could collect money to build their own swimming pool, rather than forcing people who are not of their religion to obey their rules. There is an increasing acceptance that people of religion have the right to dictate to others how they should live, and unless something is done to stop this, then things will only get worse. Whilst I consider myself liberal and believe everyone should have the right to live as they see fit, I cannot agree with such people making the rules for everyone else.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 13:53:16 UTC | #869762

skeelo's Avatar Comment 2 by skeelo

I feel for you - my blood would be boiling over this. There was a clear over-reaction at the first incident, but the second one really takes the biscuit.

If your wife and her friend were up for it, I'd say that they should make a point of wandering around naked in the Ladies' changing rooms next time around. If anyone objects, they should demand an explanation of why being naked in a changing room is no longer allowed.

Don't give up the classes, whatever you do.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 14:13:18 UTC | #869774

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 3 by sunbeamforjeebus

I agree with skeelo above,whatever you do don't drop out of the classes.Perhaps you could just persuade all the other mums to get dressed as slowly as possible and wander around naked for as long as possible.Make life as difficult for the staff as you can. All in all it's just too weird for words!!

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 14:27:15 UTC | #869781

green and dying's Avatar Comment 4 by green and dying

Well, I feel really bad for the Muslim women in the first anecdote. To be that upset by a man accidentally being briefly in the same room as you in swimming stuff is really unhealthy. I wonder what exactly they've been taught for them to be so upset? Do they think they are somehow sinning by being seen by you? I think it's these women's right not to have to feel that way, rather than your right not to be banned from the pool area. I think the whole thing is worse for the women than that inconvenience is for you. So I don't think you should do anything about it. What could the pool to do? If they stop doing the sessions the Muslim women won't be able to swim. Although, on the other hand the pool are sort of endorsing and normalising the situation. So I don't know.

As for the second situation, I'd find out whether not being naked is some kind of official policy (which I strongly doubt) and if it isn't, make a complaint about the member of staff who said that it is.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 14:37:49 UTC | #869785

skeelo's Avatar Comment 5 by skeelo

Comment 4 by green and dying :

I wonder what exactly they've been taught for them to be so upset?

Islam!

Say to the believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. God is aware of the things they work, and say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment save such as is outward and let them cast their veils over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment save to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s father, or their sons, or their husband’s son, or their sister’s sons, or their women, or what their right hands own, or such men as attend them, not having sexual desire, or children who have not yet attained knowledge of women’s private parts; nor let them stamp their feet, so that their hidden ornaments may be known.

I don't think the pool (especially if it's council operated) should be running women-only sessions for the benefit of Muslim women (or anyone else). This would not mean that Muslim women would be unable to swim, only that they'd have to discard some of their medieval dogma before doing so. Of course, they could always wear Burqinis if they wanted to stay covered...

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 14:51:46 UTC | #869788

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 6 by MilitantNonStampCollector

I see the waterproof burka on the horizon - with goggles. If I was you I would stay and rock the boat. Let them know that you felt hard done by and that you thought they overreacted for starters. Then just take it from there. You need not be bullied, hassled and thrown around by a bunch of hysterical prudes.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 14:54:42 UTC | #869790

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 7 by BanJoIvie

You don't say whether this swim facility is publicly supported/funded or privately owned. In America at least, this would make a big difference as far as what sort of rules can be legally imposed by the management. Basically, over here, a property owner can impose almost any rules he/she likes for guests, and can expell/ban anyone for violating them, even if they paid for the privelege of being there. The basic idea being that you have all your constitutional rights when on someone elses property, but you don't have a 'right' to be there, so the owner can revoke your welcome for any reason they wish.

Public property however is subject to broader law. Visitors retain full rights and protections while there, and any rules or restrictions must be reasonable. If I had paid a usage fee for an activity at a public facility, I would learn - and stand up for - my rights to enjoy full usage of that facility while there. I'd consider it an important matter of principle. I would certainly not stand for being bullied by any person whose wage was being paid by my tax dollars. If employees of a public facility are overstepping their authority by making or enforcing unjust - and unlawful - rules, I would say you have at least some duty to stand up for yourself, your fellow citizens (including the muslim women), and the rule of law.

I sympathize with the point in comment 4 that these women are really victims of a system which subjects them to such self-loathing. But I think you do them no favors by submitting to the same unreasonable rules yourself - whether from respect, or compassion, or desire to avoid a conflict, or whatever. If these women do not have the ability to stand up for their own rights, then those around them must draw the line for them; otherwise the repression simply spreads. If no one ever stands up and says "No. These restrictions are overly burdensome, and I will exercise my right to reject them," then the generational cycle will continue. It may be that standing up for your full rights could result in some of these women being forced out of their swim time. I do not minimize this sad result. But for the sake of their daughters and granddaughters, it is important to make it clear that in a conflict between their rules and the rules of a free society, their rules are the ones that must bend.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:06:43 UTC | #869796

green and dying's Avatar Comment 8 by green and dying

Comment 5 by skeelo :

I don't think the pool (especially if it's council operated) should be running women-only sessions for the benefit of Muslim women (or anyone else). This would not mean that Muslim women would be unable to swim, only that they'd have to discard some of their medieval dogma before doing so.

But in reality, that is what it would mean. And I care more about Muslim women being able to swim than I do about people being mildly inconvenienced. However, I think it's probably a bad thing to normalise this situation, because if it isn't normalised there is a greater chance that these women's daughters and granddaughters will be able to "discard some of their medieval dogma", and that will be better for them.

On balance, i think the sessions are probably a bad idea. But I don't think there's anything the OP can or should do about it, because I don't think he's the one who's really hard done by.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:07:02 UTC | #869797

skeelo's Avatar Comment 9 by skeelo

Comment 8 by green and dying :

However, I think it's probably a bad thing to normalise this situation, because if it isn't normalised there is a greater chance that these women's daughters and granddaughters will be able to "discard some of their medieval dogma", and that will be better for them.

Agreed.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:14:31 UTC | #869804

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 10 by BanJoIvie

On the other hand, if some (presumably Muslim) group has made a special arrangement to rent or reserve the facility during a certain time they may have the right to exclusive use while on their clock. In such a case, you would essentially be tresspassing during their time and any "rules" they impose would stem from the idea that they are essentially allowing you to be there. In a case like this, the overlap of rights could be tricky. Basically it would make a huge difference what someone said to you at say 11:59 as opposed to 12:01. In no wise though should you even consider forfeiting your fee or giving up the time and services for which you have paid. IMHO.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:20:15 UTC | #869809

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 11 by Richard Dawkins

I see no good reason why a swimming pool, or any public facility, should have a Muslims-only hour at all. I would object to it on exactly the same grounds as I would object to a 'Whites Only' beach in South Africa. If Muslim women don't want to swim with other citizens, and don't want to share changing rooms with other women, they have the option of not swimming at all.

Richard

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:24:33 UTC | #869813

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by irate_atheist

As soon as they saw me, some started screaming and hiding, others ran to the women's changing room, and I was pushed into the men's changing room by my swimming teacher

This is common assault. Tell the idiot that if she ever touches you again in such a manner, you will press charges.

And then get the entire swimming class collectively to tell them to get fucked and take your custom elsewhere.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:33:47 UTC | #869816

Dirty Kuffar's Avatar Comment 13 by Dirty Kuffar

A good tactic would be to inform both local and national newspapers about this incident in order to embarrass the swimming pool into dropping this religious supremist favouratism.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:50:20 UTC | #869823

danconquer's Avatar Comment 14 by danconquer

Comment 11 by Richard Dawkins :

I see no good reason why a swimming pool, or any public facility, should have a Muslims-only hour at all.

But we haven't yet seen any evidence (a mere online timetable would suffice) that an explicitly 'Muslim-only' hour is being held. What some local pools have are sessions which require attendees to be 'modestly dressed'. Such sessions are likely to appeal to alot of women of south Asian origin, not just Muslims, but also Hindu and Sikh women who would be aghast at displaying more than an ankle in public. The analogy with whites-only South Africa does not, I fear, fully hold up given that it would be impossible for a black person to attend a whites-only beach, whereas these sessions are however open to anyone willing and wishing to follow the dress code. Yes, such events are disproportionately attractive to Muslims, but it is an important (and legal) distinction.

Furthermore women-only sessions have been a staple feature of municipal swimming baths in England for Darwin knows how long now. It's interesting how people are rather selective about the types of 'segregation' which are acceptable and those that aren't.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:59:57 UTC | #869828

danconquer's Avatar Comment 15 by danconquer

Some swimming pools have also held sessions exclusively for naturists who want to be able to swim 'as nature intended'... Should we put a stop to these sessions too? Or are people only interested in curtailing the activities of those who prefer not to 'let it all hang out'?

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 16:06:53 UTC | #869835

green and dying's Avatar Comment 16 by green and dying

Comment 14 by danconquer :

But we haven't yet seen any evidence (a mere online timetable would suffice) that an explicitly 'Muslim-only' hour is being held. What some local pools have are sessions which require attendees to be 'modestly dressed'.

I took it to mean it's a women-only session for the benefit of Muslim women. They wouldn't mind non-Muslim women being there, would they? And why would they need to dress "modestly" if only women were there?

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 16:10:01 UTC | #869837

skeelo's Avatar Comment 17 by skeelo

Comment 14 by danconquer :

But we haven't yet seen any evidence (a mere online timetable would suffice) that an explicitly 'Muslim-only' hour is being held. What some local pools have are sessions which require attendees to be 'modestly dressed'. Such sessions are likely to appeal to alot of women of south Asian origin, not just Muslims, but also Hindu and Sikh women who would be aghast at displaying more than an ankle in public. The analogy with whites-only South Africa does not, I fear, fully hold up given that it would be impossible for a black person to attend a whites-only beach, whereas these sessions are however open to anyone willing and wishing to follow the dress code. Yes, such events are disproportionately attractive to Muslims, but it is an important (and legal) distinction.

Furthermore women-only sessions have been a staple feature of municipal swimming baths in England for Darwin knows how long now. It's interesting how people are rather selective about the types of 'segregation' which are acceptable and those that aren't.

I've never seen a 'Muslim-only' hour at a pool before (nor a 'Modestly-dressed-only' hour, for that matter) but what I have seen are 'Women Only' sessions provided, as green and dying says, for the benefit of Muslim women.

These sessions are not open to men, however modestly they are dressed. While it is true that, once upon a time, women-only sessions were a common feature of public swimming pools in the UK, they now seem only to be found in areas with sufficient numbers of Muslims. This is certainly the case in Glasgow, for example.

I'd like to see an end to publicly funded venues misguidedly accommodating this sort of backwards, religiously inspired sexism.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 16:54:10 UTC | #869856

shemonster's Avatar Comment 18 by shemonster

In the heart of rural Wilts we have ladies only sessions and not for the benefit of accomodating anyones religious beliefs.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 17:32:39 UTC | #869871

danconquer's Avatar Comment 19 by danconquer

Comment 13 by Dirty Kuffar :

A good tactic would be to inform both local and national newspapers about this incident in order to embarrass the swimming pool into dropping this religious supremist favouratism.

I couldn't disagree more. The tabloids have already attempted to tackle the issue of Islam and swimming pools in England and they utterly disgraced themselves: http://youtu.be/ecS0eou_gH0

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 17:40:19 UTC | #869876

lilbird1981's Avatar Comment 20 by lilbird1981

Comment 14 by danconquer :

But we haven't yet seen any evidence (a mere online timetable would suffice) that an explicitly 'Muslim-only' hour is being held. What some local pools have are sessions which require attendees to be 'modestly dressed'. Such sessions are likely to appeal to alot of women of south Asian origin, not just Muslims, but also Hindu and Sikh women who would be aghast at displaying more than an ankle in public. The analogy with whites-only South Africa does not, I fear, fully hold up given that it would be impossible for a black person to attend a whites-only beach, whereas these sessions are however open to anyone willing and wishing to follow the dress code. Yes, such events are disproportionately attractive to Muslims, but it is an important (and legal) distinction.

In fact, the swimming lesson the OP referred to is officially called a "ladies only" swimming class with the rule that women must be covered to the knee. Here's the link: http://www.cambridgemuslims.info/services-page/36-ladies-swimming

I sent an email to them some time ago to ask whether I can join them as a non-Muslim, and they said that would be fine as long as I am covered to the knee.

There are several pools around Cambridge that have cubicles in the changing rooms, so I don't understand why they don't hold it at a pool there. The current pool (Kings Hedges) doesn't even have room in the shower to put a towel, so it's in fact not possible to have a shower without showing yourself naked for some moments.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 18:09:36 UTC | #869896

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 21 by nancynancy

Welcome to the 21st Century's wormhole to the Dark Ages. As the Muslim community grows and becomes more outspoken about their right to "indigenize" rather than assimilate to a secular way of life, similar types of restrictions will unfortunately become much more common in both the public and private sector.

I predict that less than one decade from now, we will see "women only" areas increasingly set aside at beaches and swimming pools, in public libraries and college classrooms, in restaurants and hotels, on buses and subway trains, in movie theaters and stores, at bowling alleys, baseball stadiums and parking lots, perhaps even in courtrooms and public water fountains -- like some weird reenactment of the American South's Jim Crow laws.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 18:40:40 UTC | #869905

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 22 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 21 by nancynancy

I predict that less than one decade from now, we will see "women only" areas increasingly set aside at beaches and swimming pools, in public libraries and college classrooms, in restaurants and hotels, on buses and subway trains, in movie theaters and stores, at bowling alleys, baseball stadiums and parking lots, perhaps even in courtrooms and public water fountains

I'd further predict that the apologists will still be telling us its all just fine and there's nothing to get concerned about.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 19:28:05 UTC | #869922

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 23 by Vorlund

Leave a copy of the quran in the ladies toilet and old bacon sandwiches in the changing room lockers

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 19:35:41 UTC | #869926

A. R's Avatar Comment 24 by A. R

I'm with Richard here, there is absolutely no reason, beyond the ridiculous edicts of a violent middle eastern religion, that this is necessary. It reminds me far too much of the segregation of women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations, where women are forced to sit in separate sections of restaurants and cafes. This is forced not just on Muslim women, but on those of other (or no) faiths, and onto foreigners. As was mentioned above, what right does Islam have to impose it's stupidity onto those who do not adhere it it?

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 20:22:29 UTC | #869944

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 25 by Atheist Mike

By 'muslim-only' do they mean those who believe in Islam or those who dress up in a particular way? How can one swim with a burkhah on anyway?

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 20:33:45 UTC | #869950

A. R's Avatar Comment 26 by A. R

By 'muslim-only' do they mean those who believe in Islam or those who dress up in a particular way? How can one swim with a burkhah on anyway?

They have white versions of the niquab for female doctors, so perhaps a neoprene version for swimming?

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:10:35 UTC | #869966

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 27 by Neodarwinian

Yes, extremely over reaction. Why would you have to be castigated for such a minor thing anyway? Women can not be naked in front of other women?!?!?

I see that a few of the commentators here have put forward the usual rationalizations, justifications and excuses for this religious/cultural ridiculousness.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:20:16 UTC | #869971

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 28 by Atheist Mike

Comment 26 by Dr. R :

They have white versions of the niquab for female doctors, so perhaps a neoprene version for swimming?

Yup you're right, found it.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:26:22 UTC | #869977

inquisador's Avatar Comment 29 by inquisador

Ah yes, Islamic apartheid with a twist. Who could have a problem with this? Only racists and Islamophobes. Of course we should respect the religious beliefs of Islamic people. It's only right that they should feel free to practise their cultural and faith-based customs, such as fighting to ensure the primacy of Islam until the kuffars are all subjugated or converted or killed and all law and religion is for Allah. It takes a long time but the speed of progress is evidently quickening.

It's called Islamification.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:35:16 UTC | #869983

A. R's Avatar Comment 30 by A. R

Yup you're right, found it.

Oh, my. I was just kidding, but I suppose you can't put anything past a group of dedicated misogynists.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:44:28 UTC | #869989