This morning, my son asked to go swimming at 10 am. As he was going to play with a friend at 11.30, I agreed to take him early. I checked the pool programme online… and the opening times. Apparently, the pool was open, and no special programmes were being run. So, off we trundled. When I arrived at the pool, I was told that we could not swim in it until 10.45. The reason is that it was being used for ‘Muslim Male Swimming’. This is apparently so every Sunday morning. I couldn’t quite believe that a swimming pool was really institutionalising both gender and religious segregation… Apparently, this is a policy insisted on by Hackney Council, which sets the policy for all Hackney pools.
As David T (no relation) says in the comments,
As a test, how would you feel about a policy of excluding Muslims from public facilities at particular times?
I’d add that it’s interesting how a self-inflicted neurosis regarding what is impermissible, impious or unclean has to be accommodated and subsidised by others who do not share that particular irrational anxiety. Thus, the natural consequence of the hang-up in question, i.e. not being able to swim, is avoided by imposing that same disadvantage on others.
I was also told that the session was being run by the swimming pool, and had begun life as a private hire by a mosque: which had then stopped paying. Accordingly, it was being provided by Clissold Leisure Centre as an attempt to cater to Hackney's “diversity”… I spoke to another employee this morning. He gave me an identical story. His explanation was that it was a requirement of the Muslim religion that Muslims could not swim with non-Muslims. This, he argued, was an obligation which Clissold Leisure Centre was obliged to respect, and provide for. I asked him whether Clissold Leisure Centre would institute Whites Only swimming for racists. His answer was that they would, if there was sufficient demand.
It’s my understanding that when customers stop paying for a recreational service, let alone one based on obnoxious sectarian voodoo, those customers usually have to go without. Let’s call it the price of piety – the natural consequence of a self-inflicted restriction, i.e. a choice one has made. Surely anything else is an imposition or a cheat? It is, after all, a bit rich to expect irrational hang-ups of this kind to be accommodated and paid for by the same filthy heathens that are being treated with overt disdain. But not, it seems, in Hackney, where such things are positively encouraged and publicly subsidised. Such is our New Jerusalem.