Two stories in the news today highlight a growing power struggle over public swimming pools between Muslims and non-Muslims.
In Britain, women have been banned from the best pool in town – a publicly funded pool, by the way – so Muslim men can have it all to themselves for a men-only event once a week.
The 50m, Olympic-sized pool is reserved for the “Alhamdulliah swimming event” at the Inspire Sports Village in Luton, Bedfordshire during one of the most popular time slots – 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm every Friday night.
One local resident said, “‘The Friday night session for everyone is now closed because of the listed men-only sessions. I have asked a team leader about it – as there are no managers at the weekend – and he said it was a ‘cultural thing’.
“Why has one section of the community in Luton been allowed to dominate and take over the best pool in the borough? I like swimming in the competition pool after a hard week at work on Fridays and now I can’t without any discussion and very little advanced notice.”
If women want to swim on Friday nights, they must use the smaller 20m pool during the 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm time slot.
Meanwhile, in Marseille, France (a city of about 220,00 Muslims), it’s Muslim ladies who get the honors.
The Speed Water Park has been reserved for a private swimming event on September 10, between 10:00 am to 6:00 pm – “exclusively for women and children and boys up to the age of ten.”
Bikinis are not allowed – women are “encouraged to comply” with Islamic rules.
The poster reads: “We count on you to respect the AWRA (the body parts that must be covered according to Islamic law) and not come in a two piece (the body must be covered from the chest to the knees). The pool park has exceptionally allowed bathers to wear burqinis and jilbab de bains.”
Supposedly the reason for the burqinis is because there will be male lifeguards on duty.
Mayor Michel Amiel said he was so “shocked and angry” by the “provocation” that he intended to ban it. “I’m taking up a city bylaw that can prohibit this event on the grounds that it is likely to cause public disorder,” he said.
“This is communitarianism, pure and simple,” referring to the principal of a prioritizing a certain ethnic grouping rather than a mixed society.
Another local official, Républicain MP Valérie Boyer also condemned the event. “There is nothing innocuous about this: The battle of ‘the veil’ is a visible sign of fundamentalists wanting to mark their territory and subjugate women, like men, and to establish a territory where Islam appears uniform and in social control.”
She said it was a way for “Islamism to wear a uniform and exert real social control.”