posted this in Difficult Questions
on December 7th, 2013
Investigation By Religious Authorities
Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer is no conventional imam. When not performing his clerical duties such as preaching or issuing the call to prayer, this 42-year-old beardless cleric at a small mosque in the coastal village of Pinarbasi can be found there in fashionable garb, such as skinny jeans, red leather jacket, and zip-up leather boots with Cuban heels. When off-duty in the evenings, he sings with FiRock, a rock and roll band – to the displeasure of Turkey’s religious directorate, the Diyanet. Since September, after Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer and his band performed in a gig in the seaside tourist town of Kas, the Diyanet has been investigating whether his activities are un-Islamic. The only detail the Diyanet has disclosed about the investigation is that Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, as a state employee, ought to have sought permission to appear in a concert.
Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer And His Music
Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer’s band FiRock has been playing in several towns and is about to release its first album. Videos of the band’s biggest hit “Mevlaya Gel” (“Come to God”) have received more than 50,000 hits on YouTube and have been screened on Turkish TV. Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer says his band combines Islamic mysticism with the music of Led Zepellin, Pink Floyd, and Queen to spread a message of peace and tolerance. He told the Wall Street Journal, “There are many old Islamic hymns and songs, but young people don’t listen to them. Our aim is to wrap these songs into rock, blues, and psychedelic music, if necessary, to create a style that the young people like”. He added, “Music is one of the ways to get closer to God”. He also claimed that he is not profiting financially from his music, and that his music is not offensive, since he is not singing about “Satan, sex, or violence”.
Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer believes that there is no contradiction between his music and religion, and has said that if the authorities fire him as an imam on account of his music he will take the case to court.
Other Controversies Surrounding Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer
Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer is active on social media has received threats online from people in Mardin, a conservative region in southeastern Turkey, warning of dire consequences should be accept an invitation to sing there.
He has also sparked debate about how imams should behave. He is a third-generation imam, who became one at the age of 19. His view is that “The image of Islam is suffering right now, and we need to lead our community. If being an imam means solely acting within a framework of rules and taboos, it’s not for me”.
He has long been unconventional, even being the first state-employed imam in Turkey to marry a non-Muslim. His bride, a Romanian Orthodox Christian converted to Islam 3 years later, but does not cover her head.
Another area of controversy surrounding Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer is his views on topics such as homosexuality. He does not hide his admiration for Freddie Mercury, the lead singer for Queen, a gay icon who died of an AIDS-related illness, and from whom he draws much of his inspiration in music.
Think About It
Is having a modern rock musician of an imam something to be widely welcomed, especially one who uses the music to promote peace and tolerance and to bring people closer to God? Does Islam really forbid rock music? Is it also time for the conservative image of imams to undergo a radical change? What is being an imam all about? Is it merely about adhering to rules and taboos drawn by religious authorities made up of mere mortals? Or is it about being a peace-loving God-loving religious leader?
posted this in Exotic Travel
on December 6th, 2013
Surge In Travel By Muslims
Many countries are making great efforts to welcome Muslims – as tourists. According to the World Tourism Organisation, in 2011 Muslims spent an estimated $126 billion on travel and tourism, excluding religious pilgrimages. This amount was more than 12% of the total global outbound tourism expenditure for 2011. Global revenue from Muslim tourists was expected to rise 4.8% per year over the next 8 years, compared with a global average of 3.8%. Naturally many countries would like to tap on this upsurge in revenue.
What Muslim Tourists Want
Plenty of halal food tops the list of what Muslim tourists want. Also important are mosques and other places where they can pray. They would also like halal labels on hotels and even airlines. In hotels they would like indicators of direction towards Mecca, qurans, prayer mats, bathroom facilities to suit their style of ablution, and if possible a ban on alcohol. Also desirable are facilities such as spas and pools that are segregated by gender
Some Muslim want more than the usual tourist attractions. They want to learn about Muslim history and heritage, so historical sites are important.
Efforts By Japan To Attract Muslim Tourists
Japan has seen a sharp drop in the number of tourists from China because Sino-Japanese relations are rather fraught now with their dispute over territorial waters. The government had thus set a target of doubling the number of annual number of visitors from Southeast Asia by the end of this year. The population of Muslims in Japan is low, at 50,000-100,000 in a total population of 120 milllion. Most of the Muslims are from overseas, with Japanese Muslims numbering fewer than 1000. Thus most Japanese are unfamiliar with Muslim customs. Therefore local authorities have been promoting understanding of Muslim customs among local businesses.
The efforts to educate locals about Muslim customs will be complemented by efforts to offer information to Muslim tourists. The Kyoto Convention Bureau will soon be opening a website, Muslim Friendly Kyoto. It will tell Muslim tourists the locations of halal restaurants, and prayer-friendly accommodation, and the etiquette to be followed when visiting Kyoto’s Buddhist temples. The website will offer information in four languages commonly spoken by Asian Muslims.
Other parts of Japan have also had their own promotional activities. The Hokkaido Tourism Organization has compiled a 20-page Muslim Accomodation Guide, and Fukushima Prefecture will soon be hosting its first seminar for local businesses on Muslim manners. Similar lectures have been held in at least 20 regional authorities since March this year.
For its part, the Japanese government has relaxed visa requirements for Malaysian and Indonesians since July.
Efforts By Other Countries To Attract Muslim Tourists
Like Japan, Taiwan has been working to create a Muslim-friendly environment for Muslim tourists, who form only a small proportion of visitors to that country. Its Tourism Bureau thus invited the Chinese Muslims Association to invite experts on the Muslim travel market to meet representatives of restaurants and hotels in Taiwan.
The state of Victoria in Australia has been wooing visitors from the Gulf countries. In February this year its tourism minister launched two tourism marketing initiatives during a visit to Dubai. She announced that the state government was increasing its link with international markets to boost the state’s tourism industry, and she launched the first Arabic/English Melbourne visitor guide.
New Zealand, too, has been in on the act, with a workshop last year for businesses with an interest in Chinese and halal tourism.
On the other side of the world, the European Commission has encouraged Muslim tourism, suggesting that Islamic historical sites could be a draw for travellers. Bosnia, for example, reckons that its cultural heritage could be a draw for Muslim tourists.
Muslim countries too want to attract Muslim tourists. Such countries in the Middle East and in South-east Asia, and even a Ningxia province in Northwest China, are vying with each other to offer what they call sharia tourism or the Islamic experience.
Think About It
Apart from good revenue for the host countries, what positive effects might there be from encouraging travel by Muslims? Will it open their minds to other cultures? Will it reduce conservatism among them? Will the other cultures come to accept Muslims, not just for their money? Will it reduce “Islamaphobia”?
posted this in Difficult Questions
on December 5th, 2013
It happened too often, and the excuse is the same old one. A man rapes a women who became pregnant as a result. Man disavows any responsibility, denies raping her. But what to do when DNA testing can confirm paternity? Simple, just claim that the sexual act was consensual. That’s what a famous writer and prolific poet just did when a 7-month pregnant university student lodged a report against him for “unpleasant conduct”.
The alleged rapist is 48-year old Sitok Srengenge (real name Sitok Sunarto). The victim in this case is a 22-year old student from the University of Indonesia. The victim waited 7 months for Sitok Srengenge to take responsibility, during which time she became depressed and attempted suicide.
Paulus Irawan, counsel for the victim, said the sexual act was forced, meaning she was raped. Paulus Irawan said: “He has impregnated the victim and acted as if he is untouched before the law. This is an insult against women”.
Confirming the bout of depression suffered by the victim, one of her lecturers, Lily Tjahjandari, said: “We fully support a full investigation into this case”. Saraswati Dewi, another lecturer from the same university said: “These kinds of unpleasant acts which have victimized young girls must be stopped. We don’t want to see more people become victims”.
Admission And Denial
Saraswati Dewi confronted Sitok Srengenge who then admitted his role in this saga. Saraswati Dewi said: “He admitted the victim did not approach him and he also said he was guilty”. But he subsequently was quoted as saying it was consensual sex. This is the same line adopted by Laire Siwi Mentari, daughter of Sitok Srengenge, who posted this on her blog: “The accusation that my father has raped her and ran away from his responsibility is not true”. She then claimed that her father tried contacting the victim’s family but was rebuffed.
The Modus Operandi
How did Sitok Srengenge manage to get the victim into a compromising situation? Well, as it happened, another young woman came forward claiming that she too was sexually harassed by Sitok Srengenge, but she managed to escape being raped by him.
Saraswati Dewi said: “The latest victim told me that Sitok used the same tactics to lure her into a sexual act. Sitok invited her to his room for an art project but then gave her alcoholic drinks and started touching her. Maria resisted Sitok’s threats and, fortunately, managed to escape being raped”.
“Abuse Of Power”
Commissioner Arimbi Heroepoetri from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said: “The abuse of power to receive sexual services in his position is a form of sexual abuse.
Arimbi Heroepoetri added that despite “forgiveness from his wife and family, as well as any promise from Sitok Srengenge to take social responsibility for the case, it will not minimize his legal responsibility for the crime he has allegedly committed”.
And speaking of crime, Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, spokesman for the Jakarta Police said: “Investigators are preparing administrative [documents] for the investigation”.
Think About It
Sitok Srengenge is not disputing that he had a sexual relationship with the victim, and by extension, he is not disputing that the unborn child is his. Even if the sexual act was consensual, surely Sitok Srengenge should accept responsibility for the unborn child. Why then did he not take responsibility earlier? Why drag for 7 months, and in the process let the victim suffer serious depression and even contemplated suicide? And apparently the victim is not the only woman that Sitok Srengenge had taken a fancy for. Does the rich and famous has the right to abuse women and get away with it? How can the victim defend herself that the sex act was not consensual, and that it was rape, plain and simple?
posted this in Difficult Questions
on December 3rd, 2013
“I’m Still A Muslim”
How did Adila Hussin McGhee, a Malaysian Muslim woman residing in America, got herself caught up in the whirlwind world of cyberspace gossips? Adila Hussin McGhee found herself having gone viral in the social media world, being accused of apostasy – the act of abandoning Islam by converting to another religion, a charge that she denies strongly, saying in rebuttal: “I’m still a Muslim”.
The Talk That Started It All
43-year old Adila Hussin McGhee originally came from Ipoh, Malaysia. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia graduate married American F. McGhee, her second husband, after a failed first marriage in Malaysia. She now resides in Richmond, Virginia and now teaches the Malay language at the Diplomat Language Center in Washington DC . She is also a former student of the Klang Islamic College in Selangor, Malaysia. She is involved in charitable work.
According to Adila Hussin McGhee, she gave a talk on Malaysia to a group of women recently. Shortly after that, one charity organization published an article alleging that Adila Hussin McGhee has converted from Islam to Christianity while she was still married to her first husband in Malaysia.
Explaining how this all came about, Adila Hussin McGhee said she was helping a charity to find new markets for handmade soap. Adila Hussin McGhee explains: “I went to the district office near where I stay and was introduced to an officer there”. There she was given a stall to sell her wares during the harvest festival at Bowling Green. But after the festival, the stores were moved to a gymnasium at a church there.
It was then that Adila Hussin McGhee was invited by a women’s association to give talks on Malaysia to its members. Explaining these talks, Adila Hussin McGhee said: “I have given talks on Malaysia, from the pre-Merdeka to the post-Merdeka period, on the country’s geography, climate, economy, people, food, culture, religion and others, and was surprised to know that many did not know where Malaysia is. Besides introducing them to Malaysia, I also explained to them the success and achievements of Malaysian women, how they held high positions in the government and private sectors. I told them that Malaysian women could also drive”.
“It Saddens Me”
Adila Hussin McGhee still does not know how the article on her supposed conversion came to be written. She said: “I am very sad that my name has been tarnished, and this article on me is a lie. I did not meet nor was I interviewed by the writer of that article. In fact, when I gave a talk on Malaysia, it was only attended by women”.
Adila Hussin McGhee said: “It saddens me not having anyone to talk to about it. Everyone believes what they hear without checking if it is the truth. I’m still a Muslim; I still believe in Allah, the one and only God, and Prophet Muhammad. I know what is good and bad in Islam. Don’t believe lies”.
Referring to the article that went viral on social media sites, Adila Hussin McGhee said: “I am also sad because the names of a few of my friends at the Klang Islamic College have also been linked to the allegation, when they know nothing about it”.
And then she added: “I have told my parents what really happened, but I am concerned about whether the matter would reach my children. They could possibly be ostracised”.
She and her husband have scheduled an appointment to meet the church management in an attempt to get them to help clear her name. After all, she was invited by the church to give the talks.
Think About It
Why do people make irresponsible and false statements about others? In this case, to call a Muslim an apostate without proof can land that person in trouble with countries where there are blasphemy and anti-conversion laws. In some areas, it could earn a death penalty. How should cyberspace be better controlled? Should there be an international code of conduct in cyberspace? If so, who can enforce it?
posted this in Insights & Views
on December 2nd, 2013
Going, Going, Gone!
In case you are wondering, no, the police are not cheering beer drinkers on. Instead they are having a smashing good time, and 240,000 bottles of beer and other items were destroyed in what is described as a crackdown on “immoral” behaviour in Kano city.
The northern half of Nigeria is predominantly Muslim area, and in 2001, 9 of Nigeria’s 37 states adopted Sharia law as their law. However enforcement has been rather lax. But this changed recently when the state government decided to have stricter enforcement to clean up the “immorality” problem in the city. So the Sharia police, the Hisbah, began to search vehicles coming into the city and to confiscate alcohol, cigarettes, etc.
So how well did Hisbah perform? According to press report, Hisbah did pretty well, confiscating the following:
240,000 bottles of beer
8,000 liters of burukutu, a local alcoholic beverage
These seized products were transported to a local landfill, where a bulldozer destroyed the entre haul to shouts of “Allah Ahkbar” (“God is great).
Commenting on the destruction, Aminu Daurawa, chief of the Hisbah unit in Kano said: “We hope this measure will help restore the tarnished image of Kano. …We hereby send warning to unrepentant offenders that Hisbah personnel will soon embark on an operation into every nook and corner of (Kano) state to put an end to the sale and consumption of alcohol and all other intoxicants”. Aminu Daurawa also expressed his “ardent hope this will bring an end to the consumption of such prohibited substances”.
About The Hisbah
Hisbah, the Sharia police, is also known as the morality police. The Hisbah has a force of approximately 9,000 officers operating in multiple states in the predominantly Muslim northern half of the country. Like the regular police, the Hisbah police force also engage in law enforcement duties, Hisbah are also involved in community services, development work, and dispute resolution. They focus on cases deemed immoral behaviour under Sharia rather than on ordinary crimes.
Mohammed Yusuf Yola, spokesman for Hisbah said: “Those arrested include Muslims and non-Muslims and we treat them equally because this is about morality”. The Hisbah officers will usually counsel first and second time offenders. Repeat offenders face fines and jail sentences.
Since the start of the current crackdown in September, Hisbah officers have arrested people accused of involvement in prostitution and homosexual sex, drunkards and drug addicts.
Think About It
How sustainable is the current crackdown be? Can the Hisbah be effective in policing the morality of Muslims in the north of the country? Why in the first place is alcohol so freely available?
posted this in Family & Relationships
on December 1st, 2013
Young Marriage Or Child Marriage?
A young Muslim girl was raped, A police report was made against a rapist. Then suddenly the victim withdrew her police report. And shortly she ended up marrying that rapist. But the marriage ended in divorce later. And adding to the controversy was the permission granted by the Syariah (Sharia) Court in allowing the marriage – because the victim was below the official marriageable age. Now critics are slamming the Syariah Court for effectively approving a child marriage, because the rape took place when was 12 and the marriage when she was 13.
About The Rape
Nor Fazira Saad was then 12 years old. The story of the rape was sketchy, but this much we know. Nor Fazira Saad filed a police report in July 2013 claiming to have been gang raped by 3 men, one of whom was Mohd Fahmi Mohamed Alias. What happened to the other 2 alleged rapists was not stated.
Following the police report, the parents of Mohd Fahmi Mohamed Alias approached Nor Fazira Saad, purportedly begging her to withdraw the police report. Nor Fazira Saad’s father, Saad Mustafa, reportedly said this at his daughter’s wedding last year: “It was better for them to get married than to do something that is not good”.
As to why Saad Mustafa decided to allow her daughter to withdraw the police report, this is what he said: “They pestered me for five nights until I decided to withdraw the report six days later… as a father I understand their concern for their son”.
Just why did the parents of Mohd Fahmi Mohamed Alias resort to begging Nor Fazira Saad to withdraw the rape report against their son? The reason for this is clear. Rape is a serious crime in Malaysia. And rape involving a minor is even more serious. And there is no doubting that Nor Fazira Saad is a minor.
Under Syariah law, the marriageable age for girls is 16, and for boys it is 18. People who are below the marriageable age cannot be married unless the Syariah Court grants them permission to do so.
So the only way the marriage could proceed must be that the Syariah Court had granted them permission to do so. Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) said: “Since the girl was only 12 years old, the court must have given them permission to marry”. And indeed the Kulim Syariah Court did just that.
Ivy Josiah went on to say: “This decision is unacceptable and wrong”. She added that this was not a case of young marriage, but child marriage. Ivy Josiah was adamant that the Syariah Court itself should be educated to the fact that child marriages were unacceptable and outrages. She said: “Even health wise, a 13-year-old’s body is not ready for child-bearing and such. She is still a child”.
Suri Kempe, program manager of Sisters In Islam said: “The case highlights a legal loophole in Islamic family law that allows an alleged perpetrator to escape further investigation through marriage… by becoming a husband. It is deplorable that marriage is being used by alleged rapists as a way to escape prosecution.
Suri Kempe went on to say: “The law should reflect the weight Islam puts on protecting children and simultaneously recognise a child’s right to life, health and education as a basic human right. The best interest of the child was clearly not a consideration when the Syariah Court approved this marriage application”.
Urging the police to investigate Nor Fazira Saad’s claim of being a rape victim, Suri Kempe said: “We urge the government to make child protection a priority by amending this flawed provision in the law. They must put a complete stop to the practice of child marriage, as it entails many economic, social and health risks, and does not protect girls or secure their future”.
The couple has since divorced.
Think About It
Suri Kempe said that there is a “loophole in Islamic family law that allows an alleged perpetrator to escape further investigation through marriage… by becoming a husband” and that “marriage is being used by alleged rapists as a way to escape prosecution”. Can anything be done to close this loophole, which is unfair to the girls? Ivy Josiah said that the Syariah Court’s decision to allow this child marriage is wrong, and that the Syariah Court itself should be educated “to the fact that child marriages were unacceptable and outrages”. How can this be done? The fact that the couple had since divorced reinforces the impression that the marriage was not founded on love, but on lust – which led to the rape. What can be done to protect the rape victims and to punish rapists?
posted this in Difficult Questions
on November 30th, 2013
Threat Of Legal Action
On Nov19 Marina Mahathir, a prominent women’s-rights activist and daughter of Malaysia’s former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, issued Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) with a letter of demand threatening the organization with legal action if it did not retract what she deemed were defamatory statements about her. The deadline of a week that she set has passed, but there has been no news of a retraction or any settlement.
The Offensive Statements
The statements that offended Marina Mahathir were made in leaflets that ISMA were said to have distributed and that named her as a “dalang” or mastermind of COMANGO (The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process), which ISMA had claimed was a group of 54 “anti-Islam” non-governmental organizations.
The leaflets also criticized COMANGO on several counts. Some of these were the calling for the freedom to renounce Islam; the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual rights; the removal of Malay privileges; the freedom to embrace Syiah teachings [teachings different from that of mainstream Islam and declared illegal by Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council in 1984]; and rights for Roman Catholics to refer to God as “Allah”.
What Is Comango?
COMANGO is a coalition of 54 non-governmental organizations that has been monitoring Malaysia’s performance in the United Nations Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review process. As part of the process, COMANGO submitted a report to the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in March 2013.
COMANGO’s position is that it supports freedom of religion,and the rights of everyone to be free from violence irrespective of gender and sexual orientation. These are rights and freedoms that are in Malaysi’s Federal Constitution.
Marina Mahathir, Sisters in Islam, And COMANGO
Sisters in Islam, is a member of COMANGO, and Marina Mahathir is a board member. In a statement on the Sisters in Islam website, she points out that it is a group that insists on referring to the Quran and Sunnah [way of life prescribed for Muslims] for the ethical principles underlying its fights for justice for women. She also points out that the message in the Quran is about justice and equality, which form the basis of her beliefs. She believes that all human beings are created by one God, and that God makes no mistakes, so every human being is created as God intended him or her to be. Thus she says that God’s creations should be treated with respect, dignity and humaneness, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.
She goes on to say that she knows the COMANGO report and that she supports it “not least because it is nothing that ISMA says it is, as anyone who would care to read it on the Office of the Commission on Human Rights website would know”.
Marina Mahathir And ISMA
When ISMA first distributed its leaflets, Marina Mahathir had on November 10 threatened it with legal action, yet ISMA continued to do so, and at a press conference held at its offices on November 16, its deputy president Aminuddin Yahaya argued that her link with Sisters in Islam meant that she “directly or indirectly” endorsed COMANGO’s agenda.
ISMA has since confirmed that it has received Marina Mahathir’s letter of demand and that its lawyers were dealing with it. Marina Mahathir had 4 demands. One was for ISMA to confirm whether it stands by its allegations, though it is not clear whether these allegations refer to ISMA’s interpretations of COMANGO’s recommendations, or of Marina Mahathir’s role in the report. The others were for ISMA to give a satisfactory explanation of why it linked her to COMANGO’s campaign; to fully retract its defamatory claims and publish an apology based on her terms on its own website and Facebook page, and on several named news portals and daily papers; and to give her an undertaking that it would refrain from making further defamatory statements about her.
Think About It
Marina Mahathir freely admits she knows the COMANGO report and supports it, so why does she consider being described as the mastermind behind it to be defamatory? Is it because ISMA describes COMANGO as being anti-Islam, whereas she is a strong Muslim? Or is it because ISMA is implying that she is using her position and background to unduly influence the report? What will ISMA’s response be? Can it stand by its allegations? Has it interpreted the COMANGO report correctly?
posted this in Insights & Views
on November 29th, 2013
Reason For Optimism
After more than 20 years of campaigning for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, should women there be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel now? Two activists are optimistic. Aziza al-Yusef and Hala al-Dosari say that they have had a meeting with the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, albeit through a video conference, to comply with strict rules of segregation between men and women. They say that he had told them, “Rest assured that the issue is being discussed, and expect a good outcome”. He did warn them, though, that the ban on women driving was “a matter to be decided by the legislative authority” and that the kingdom is governed by Sharia law. Yet Aziza al-Yusef said, “We expect a royal decree that gives us this right”. Is her expectation likely to be fulfilled?
The Shura Council
Saudi Arabia has no elected parliament. Instead it has an all-appointed Shura Council (the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia), which makes recommendations to the government, but the final say remains with the king. The king is known to be wanting to give women more rights, and this year 30 women were appointed to be part of the 150-member Shura Council. Furthermore, 3 of the women were named deputy chairpersons of three committees.
Last month 3 female members of the Shura Council presented a recommendation that women in Saudi Arabia be allowed to drive. However, the Council rejected it, without passing it to the government.
Grand Mufti’s Reason For Retaining Ban On Women Driving
The day after news broke about what the interior minister said to the two activists, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s grand mufti said, during a speech given in Medina, that the issue of women’s right to drive should not be one of society’s major concerns. He also called for “the matter to be considered from the perspective of protecting society from evil”, which, according to him, included letting women drive.
Think About It
Are Aziza al-Yusef and Hala al-Dosari being overoptimistic? Will members of the Shura Council heed the grand mufti’s words? Why is letting women drive an evil? Will the king agree with the grand mufti?
Women’s Protest Drive In Saudi Arabia Goes Smoothly
Use Of Social Media In Campaign To Allow Women To Drive In Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia – Women Drivers Plan Protest Drive On October 26
Will Saudi Society Want Women To Have Driving Licenses?
Saudi Arabia – What Has Women Drivers Got To Do With Virgins And Homosexuals?
Saudi Arabia – Ban On Women Driving Nothing To Do With Religion
Saudi Women Sending Government A Big Message On Driving
Saudi Arabia – Woman Driver Manal Al Sharif Released From Detention
posted this in Insights & Views
on November 28th, 2013
Need For Special Arrangements
Swimming is not a popular sport among Muslim girls because their beliefs and culture do not allow them to be seen in public in their swimsuits, or to be mixing with people of the opposite sex in a confined space such as a swimming pool. To cater to those Somali-American girls aged 5-17 who would like to swim, the St Paul YMCA in Minnesota has started to make special arrangements for them. The St Paul’s YMCA is not the first to make such special arrangements for Muslim girls. Similar arrangements have been made elsewhere in the USA and have induced resentment in some other members of the public.
Arrangements For Swim Group At St Paul YMCA
This program is run in partnership with the St Paul Police Department, which had learnt from the Somali-American community there about the desire for such a facility. The hour-long swim practice program entails clearing out all other swimmers from the pool during the session, locking up the men’s locker room, and bringing in female lifeguards. Because the pool is on the third floor, with no windows that others can peep through, there has been no need to paper over glass walls or windows to ensure privacy for the swimmers, as has been the case in some other places. The Police Department provides transport to and from the YMCA for the swimmers.
Special Arrangements For Muslim Females In Other Places
Examples of places in North America that have made similar arrangements include the Metropolitan Recreation Center in New York City, some private universities such as Harvard and George Washington, the Columbia Association in Maryland, which runs string of swimming pools, the YMCA in Kansas City, the Curran Aquatic Center in North Carolina, and …Edmonton, Canada. There are also several places in the UK where similar arrangements have been made.
Views On Special Arrangements For Muslim Swimmers
Generally, those behind the special arrangements see them as a means of encouraging integration of minorities into the community, and giving them a chance to enjoy facilities that others in the community enjoy.
However, there are those who resent the special arrangements, arguing that it should be the minorities who ought to be making the effort to adapt to local circumstances and to integrate. In some places in the UK there has been criticism of the rules imposed on swimwear during these sessions, which may be opened to non-Muslim women as well. For example, swimwear will have to be “modest”, with women covered from neck to ankles.
Think About It
Should special arrangements be made for the Muslim community to enjoy public facilities such as swimming pools? Or should it be for them to adapt to the community? Is it an unnecessary waste of public resources to make these special arrangements? If it is modesty and privacy that Muslims require, could they not go at times when the pool is relatively unused? Or is the public being unduly selfish in resenting these special arrangements?