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Wednesday, March 14, 2007 

Scum-watch: Take one hijab or two into the sauna?

Via BlairWatch, here's today's obligatory Sun-story on the foibles of members of "our Muslim community", as the Dear Leader referred to them:

A MUSLIM woman in full hijab robes was allowed to swelter in a SAUNA because worried staff did not want to offend her.

She then jumped into the sports centre’s swimming pool to cool off while still wearing the black top-to-toe Islamic dress.

Straight off, the basic ignorance of the whole article is more than apparent. The hijab is not a robe: the hijab is a headscarf, nothing more, and in Islamic scholarship, as Wikipedia states, has a wider meaning of modesty, etc. Surely the sub-editor could have sorted this out in seconds?

Due to this misunderstanding, it's difficult to work out exactly what she was wearing. I'm assuming it was either a jilbab or a chador.

After ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the pool the mystery woman changed out of her wet hijab into a dry one in the changing rooms and left alone.

Yesterday members of the David Lloyd Leisure centre in Oxford said they were baffled by the women’s actions.

A woman then acts rather bizarrely for an incredibly short time, and just happens to be wearing religious dress. Huge news story. Oh, wait, don't tell me, this is actually a case of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD:

Club member Ian Caldwell, 46, was sitting in the sauna when the fully-dressed woman walked in.

He said: “I pointed out that it was a sauna and asked her if it was appropriate. All the other women in there were all in bathing costumes.

“When I saw her in the pool later, she was still wearing the Islamic outfit.

“The pool attendant said she was allowed to wear this due to her religious customs. It was just political correctness gone completely barmy. I told the manager that it was my custom to attend saunas naked, as they do in Sweden, and said I trusted he would find that equally acceptable.

“But to be serious, this is a question of hygiene, not religious rights.”

It seems odd that Caldwell doesn't explain what the woman's response was to his questioning of her clothing, and it also appears that the pool attendant just let her get on with it rather than bothering to ask her why she was acting in that way. She doesn't appear to have been hurting anyone, and arguably, bringing up the whole question of hygiene when everything suggests that she changed into a clean robe when she arrived and then back into the clothes she wore beforehand is just as politically correct. The whole article is leaping to conclusions: that staff didn't interrupt her because they were worried about "offending" her etc, when they might have just been following the usual British way of letting weirdos and the more eccentric among us get on with it.

Then we have Taj Hargey, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to previously criticise the MCB on the also widely criticised Panorama programme, and who also offered to fund the school which was taken to court after a 12-year-old girl was banned from wearing the niqab (it has to be said I fully support the school in that case) mouthing off:

“How can you swim properly if you wear a hijab?”

Err, pretty easily I would have thought if it was tied up correctly. Does Hargey not realise that olympic swimmers themselves tend to cover their hair for rather obvious reasons? Surely the whole point of this is that it would be a lot more difficult to swim in a robe, is it not?

“Wearing a veil is nothing to do with Islam, it is a cultural tradition.

It's true that this is an on-going debate within the Muslim community, and that a good few would disagree with Hargey, so we'll let him get away with this. It's his next statement I have more of a problem with:

“They think this is their way of making a statement, but this is the worst possible statement. They are shooting themselves in the foot.”

Personally, if I wanted to make a statement the last thing I would do is wear a robe while in a sauna. That's not making a statement, it's being pretty daft. As is making a big deal out of the bizarre actions of one woman. If the Sun truly wanted to be fair, it would have perhaps also got a quote from someone who doesn't have such similar views to that of the approved Murdoch line. Instead, we've got another article to add the Muslim baiting pile that have appeared in the Scum of late.

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