Monday, March 19, 2007

Is wearing a hijab to a sauna carrying political correctness too far?

from:Oxford Mail
A health club has been criticised for allowing a Muslim woman to go for a swim and sauna while wearing traditional head dress and robe.The woman was admitted to David Lloyd Leisure, in Garsington Road, Cowley, on Sunday in contravention of the company's own rules on dress.The decision has been condemned by club member Ian Caldwell, who was in the sauna when the woman walked in and by Muslim community leader Taj Hargey, who said it was "political correctness gone crazy."
Mr Caldwell said: "The woman walked in wearing her head dress and robe down to the floor and I said 'do you think it's appropriate to wear all that gear in the sauna'."There were other women in there who felt threatened because they were wearing swimsuits while she was fully dressed."She then left and got into the swimming pool. I asked the manager why she was allowed to break the rules and he said they had to observe her religious customs.
"They've got a dress code but they are effectively making exemptions for religious dress. I don't think they should put religious custom over and above health and hygiene. It is customary in this country to wear swim gear in the swimming pool."Liam Macgilp, general manager at David Lloyd Oxford, said: "Whereas we respect the religious beliefs and customs of all members, the health, hygiene and safety of members is always the first priority."
The rules are that all members in the sauna or the wet areas of the club should wear swimwear that is less voluminous for the health, safety and hygiene of all its staff and members."He would not comment on the incident on Sunday which he said he did not witness but said he understood Mr Caldwell's description of the sequence of events to be correct.
Mr Hargey, chairman of muslim group MECO, said: "If this woman wants to wear this garb it's not Islamic custom, it's a cultural tradition which has nothing to do with faith."This is political correctness gone crazy and there should be one set of rules and regulations for everyone, regardless of their culture or religion."Perhaps she should consider wearing a new Islamic swimsuit that has been designed called the Burqini which covers all the necessary parts."That would be one way around it if she wants to preserve her modesty."
Muslim community leader Muhammed Khan said: "Muslim women who choose to use a facility do so through their own free will and hence need to uphold both personal safety, relevant Islamic injunctions pertaining to the matter, as well as the health and safety of other users."It seems Muslim women are being permitted to wear clothing, not a swimsuit, that is concealing yet non-voluminous. It would be advisable to clarify what types of clothing would be classed as 'less voluminous'."

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