‘UnIslamic activities’ in British schools

A Muslim group in Britain wants a ban on unIslamic activities such as dance classes in public schools to make Muslim students feel included. But other Muslim groups disagree.

The Muslim Council of Britain wants special bans during Ramadan, including “science lessons dealing with sex, parents’ evenings, exams and immunisation programmes,” reports the Daily Express.

The holy month – when eating and drinking is not allowed in daylight hours – should also see a ban on swimming lessons in case pupils swallow water in the pool.

When swimming is allowed, boys should wear clothing covering their bodies “from the navel to the neck”, even during single-sex pool sessions, while girls must be covered up completely at all times, apart from the face and hands.

The MCB wants single-gender groups for sports and school trips, Arabic language classes for Muslim pupils, recital of the Koran in music classes, prayer rooms in all schools and instruction in Islam for all students as part of religious education classes.

In art classes, Muslim children should not be allowed to draw people, as this is forbidden under some interpretations of Islamic law.

Other Muslim groups said the report did not reflect their views.

Many British Muslims oppose separatism. Britain’s first Muslim lord, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, said in a speech in Qatar that there is no religious reason why Muslim women should wear veils, which he called “a barrier to integration in the West. The veil is now a mark of separation, segregation and defiance against mainstream British culture.”

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    It is time to reconsider the practice of allowing people to move to another place where the traditions are markedly different than they are used to. The classic example is the Hmung, allowed to enter the United States because their cooperation with us during the Vietnam war made them unwelcome in their homeland. While we should have given them safe haven, ultimately we should have insisted that Vietnam bring them home in return for relations.

  2. I don’t know. I think as long as someone isn’t a criminal and since emigration to the U.S. is still a buyer’s market and we can set any substantive requirements we want, we ought to roll out the welcome mat.

    As long as it’s understood that your native language and colorful customs are your own business and if you want to preserve and practice them you do so at your own expense. Don’t expect the clerk at the DMV to speak Uzbek or the traffic court referee to speak Tamil.

    If you don’t speak/read/write English then find someone who can because the choice to emigrate doesn’t obligate anyone to defer to your cultural norms.

    The mischief that results from those celebrations of diversity and respect for other cultures is that far from living in beautiful harmony with all cultures equally respected you end up with a tragedy of the commons since the members of each culture will fight to obtain as much advantage as they’re certain they deserve.

  3. wayne martin says:

    Unfortunately, Muslims seem to have no interest in assimilating, and have begun to assert that defiance of the “melting pot” theory of American immigration. For instance, the following is a snippet from an article that appeared about a month ago from Reuters:

    Minnesota Muslim taxi drivers could face crackdown
    Reuters on Yahoo ^ | 1/17/07 | Michael Conlon

    CHICAGO (Reuters) – Muslim cab drivers at Minnesota’s biggest airport are facing a possible crackdown for refusing to give rides to travelers carrying liquor or accompanied by dogs, an official said on Wednesday.

    The Metropolitan Airports Commission has authorized a public hearing next month on a staff proposal to increase penalties for refusing fares, spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

    A large number of taxi drivers in the area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Muslim Somali immigrants.

    Many of them say they feel the faith’s ban on alcohol consumption includes transporting anyone carrying it. Some have also refused to transport dogs, both pets and guide dogs, saying they are unclean.

    In Australia, Muslim cab drivers have not only refused to rides to people carrying alcohol, but also to seeing-eye dogs—claiming that they are “unclean”.

    I don’t see much hope for the situation if countries cave into these unreasonable demands.

  4. Richard Cook says:

    This should come as no suprise. This is a cultural war. In some cases being fought with guns, in some cases debate and intimidation. I wonder if we (the Western world) will realize this and start defending what we have.

  5. In the cab example, I am attracted to the idea of just leaving it up to the cab drivers to choose who they will do business with as long as they don’t refuse anyone protected by an anti-discrimination rule.

    For example, do I have a right to travel with my dog or with alcohol?

    (I suspect you do have a right to travel with your seeing eye dog, so on that one, they’ll have to give in.)

    If I don’t have this right, why can’t these guys legitimately refuse to drive me?

    On the other hand, I think the Muslim groups demands for schools are excessive and oppressive because they seek to compel others to follow their own rules.

  6. With the cab drivers, people have the choice of just waiting for a cab that will take them. I suspect the alcohol taxis will be popular and more profitable, or people will choose to travel without alcohol so they can wait in shorter lines. But it still leaves individuals the ability to act according to individual beliefs and priorities.

  7. Wayne Martin says:

    > In the cab example, I am attracted to the idea of
    > just leaving it up to the cab drivers to choose who
    > they will do business with as long as they don’t
    > refuse anyone protected by an anti-discrimination rule.

    In both the British and Minneapolis case, Muslims are asserting that Sharia should be the supreme law of the land, not secular law. These people, having immigrated to Britain, the US, Canada and Australia, believe that by pressing their demands for a parallel legal system they will be able to create a foothold that will eventually allow them to replace secular law with Sharia and eventually create a world-wide Caliphate. The violence being perpetrated on Western societies is not the only pressure being asserted against our culture.

    The idea that an Islamic cab driver should be able to deny service to a person with a bottle of alcohol visible might be expanded to their demanding the right to search a waiting passenger’s luggage in order to prove that there is no alcohol in the luggage. Or perhaps demanding that a person waiting for a cab take a breath-alyzer test to prove there is no alcohol in his/her body? Or perhaps Muslim could demand that a male relative be present in the cab in order to transport female passengers?

    America has evolved into a secular society that attempts to provide equality before the law. This premise has been implemented in a large number of ways, such as the passage of laws that require merchants to provide service (within reason) to all. We see the words “believe that no person shall be discriminated simply because of his colour, race, creed or religion …” appearing routinely in our civil codes. This idea is simply antithetical to Islam.

    In Minneapolis, about three-quarters of the cab drivers at the Airport are Somali immigrants. Which means that easily 8 out of 10 cabs might be driven by drivers demanding that you comply with their religious tenets if you want transport in their cabs. Moreover, most cabs work on a queue—the next cab in the line gets the next passenger. The scheme works because you walk up to the next cab and get in. If the system were changed so that a driver who is in the front of the line can refuse to take a passenger for religious purposes, then the whole system stops working effectively.

    The idea of a society that sees all as equal is not what these people want. If anyone has any doubt, read the Koran.

  8. Andy Freeman says:

    > In the cab example, I am attracted to the idea of just leaving it up to the cab drivers to choose who they will do business with as long as they don’t refuse anyone protected by an anti-discrimination rule.

    I’d be sympathetic if there weren’t a cab licensing scheme that greatly restricted the number of cabs.

    As long as the number of competitors is restricted, they should be obligated to take anyone.

    If anyone can pick up fares, then let them discriminate however they’d like.

    Either way, a selective list of “you can’t discriminate against {x}” is wrong.

  9. Regarding: “In the cab example, I am attracted to the idea of just leaving it up to the cab drivers to choose who they will do business with as long as they don’t refuse anyone protected by an anti-discrimination rule.”

    The primary problem (among others) with this is where does it end? Do we start tolerating discrimination against unveiled women next? What about Jews? As long as this (driving a cab) is an activity sanctioned by the govt, it seems quite reasonable to me that those wishing to engage in it must obey the govt’s rules. Otherwise you are looking at a situation where individuals acting with govt sanction are actively engaging in open discrimination.

    As for the notion that some antidiscrimination rules will solve the problem, consider that by embracing this sort of thing in the first place we are openly acknowleging and accepting discrimination, merely limiting it’s scope. Given that the individuals practicing this sort of thing wish to impose a far stricter version of these restrictions on everyone else, how long do we wait till single-sex pools and the other impedimentia of Islam become enforceable?

    This is a secular society. If you don’t like it, leave. Very simple, very fair.

  10. Indigo Warrior says:

    Militant Muslims are just one of many groups that feel they have the right to dictate to others, both inside and outside their community, how to live their lives. Nobody forces Muslims to drink alcohol, or dance naked, or engage in pre-marital sex. I really don’t think that the faith and self-control of Muslims (or any other group) is so weak that they need police brutality to keep them away from liquor, dogs, porn, or whatnot (as their activists seem to believe.)

  11. Here’s the thing for me, and I hate to open this can of worms, but. . .

    Because I am of the opinion that Catholic hospitals should be free to not offer emergency contraception, regular birth control, and abortion because they violate the teachings of their faith, I tend to be of the opinion that if the services one desires are available elsewhere, then individuals and organizations should be able to follow their religious teachings, and you should be free to go to a different provider who shares your attitude about these issues.

    Although I’m not a big fan of radical Islam and tend to accept what’s been asserted in the thread and the original post about its seeking to force beliefs on others in an aggressive and invasive way, it’s harder for me to assert that these guys shouldn’t be able to follow the teachings of their faith about alcohol and dogs.

    If it’s true that there is already great government regulation of the cabs and that essentially to be a taxicab driver is to be public not private sector, then I guess that they shouldn’t be able to set their own rules.

  12. wayne martin says:

    Just for the record, most airports have a special license which restricts the number of cabs that can operate out of the airport:

    More than 50 percent of all rides in the city start or end at Mineta San Jose and individual rides are far more lucrative than those elsewhere in the city. San Jose’s taxi fares are among the highest in the nation, with a one-way fare from the airport to downtown costing $20 and more.

    While some drivers operate taxis owned by the cab company, 400 or so taxi drivers in San Jose own and operate their vehicles and pay a feel to be affiliated with a taxi company.

    Under the taxi system plan, the city will divvy up an additional 105 airport permits — for a total of 300 — to as many as 12 San Jose-licensed taxi companies using a complicated formula that involves the size of the company’s fleet and how many pickups the company makes outside the airport. That number will be reviewed annually.

    While driving a cab is already regulated by city/county governments, airports get additional regulation.

  13. Well, unless a driver also wouldn’t pick up unveiled men, you’re discriminating against women, which would already be illegal. And it would also be against the law to refuse to pick up Jews.

    If it’s a publicly controlled industry, then I think that Minnosota needs to explain the terms under which drivers can get licenses, and those terms might include the willingness to drive any person with legal cargo. If a driver refuses, then whatever happens when you refuse a fare, happens to that driver no matter why he did. If in good Muslim conscience the driver can’t accept those terms, he finds another line of work.

    Is it a secular society or is it a free society?

    The first amendment does more than prohibit the establishment of religion, it also prohibits the gov’t from making laws prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    Freedom might mean that maybe private providers of a service can set the terms of the service, and customers can choose to accept those terms or go elsewhere, unless we can think of a reason that the gov’t must intervene.

  14. Do you really believe that it’s bad to discriminate in all cases? I think it’s bad to discriminate in all the ways listed in standard anti-discrimination statements, but wouldn’t it be foolish if we had to treat everyone in every situation exactly the same?

    Anyway, for the record, radical Islam freaks me out. I don’t know how you draw a clear line about religious tolerance to fundamentally intolerant people. On the other hand, to require that things be completely secular, even in the private sector, reflects an intolerance too.

  15. Wayne Martin says:

    While driving a cab is already regulated by city/county governments, airports get additional regulation.

    > Is it a secular society or is it a free society?

    This is a secular society, by law.

    Here is a section from a “Vehicles for Hire” municipal code in Vancouver:


    Part 12 Standards of Service

    12.1 Every holder of a Licence to operate a Taxicab shall provide a 24-hour service to all persons, and if approved by the Motor Carrier Commission to do so, shall include a Dual Taxicab service to persons who have a disability or disabilities, and any person who may use a wheelchair, scooter, or other required or necessary Mobility Aid.

    12.2 Every holder of a Licence to operate a Dual Taxicab service shall, upon telephone or other notification, and after the person has identified themselves as one who requires the service because of a handicap or who uses a wheelchair, scooter or other Mobility Aid, give priority of access to a Dual Taxicab to such customers, and must ensure that Dual Taxicab’s are available to primarily serve
    such customers’ on demand transportation requirements at all times that a Vehicle For Hire service is provided to the public, including, but not limited to, high volume periods, and such special situations as, but not limited to, transit strikes.

    12.3 The holder of a Licence to provide a Vehicle For Hire service, and which includes a Dual Taxicab service, shall insure that all requests for service, from a person or persons who have a disability or disabilities, and any person who may use a wheelchair, scooter, or other required or necessary Mobility Aid, are satisfied in a timely and efficient manner and that a sufficient number of vehicles are available at all times to provide such service. For the purpose of this Bylaw, timely and efficient shall mean the average time of response to customers requesting a Taxicab.
    The occurrence of the term “All Persons” should be enough to explain what is expected of Taxi cab service providers. Taxis are licensed in every city, so the words might change from here to there.

  16. well, that’s pretty clear cut then.

  17. Wait, West Vancouver, Canada?

  18. It is difficult to “celebrate diversity” when those with whom you wish to celebrate are kicking blind people out of their taxi cabs.

    It is difficult to embrace the cultures of others when they reject yours.

    I understand the impulse of relgious fundementalists — be they Christian, Amish, Jewish, Islamic or whatever — to reject modern values. There are certainly aspect about those values of which I am not proud.

    Confrontations like these — the schools in London, the jitneys in Minnesota — make me think that holding off the theocratic state legislatively and even militarily may not be enough.

  19. There is a wonderful bumpersticker I saw once: “Multiculturalism, Democracy, Imigration…Pick any two”

    When you have religions that are based upon the assumption that it is the duty of believers to impose their belief systems on others (Islam is certainly one of those), the notion that the ‘free exercise of religion’ takes place in a vacuum is naive at best. The right to freedom of expression does not provide the expressor with the right to impose upon another individuals right to express themself, hence you cannot argue that your right to speak (for instance) entitles you to drown out the speech of another.

    I sympathize with Catholic hospitals that don’t wish to provide emergency contraception, but ultimately if their receive state sanction, they must be subject to state regulation. Libertarians have a stronger case here as they (for the most part) would eschew any state sanction, and hence the control that goes with it. A rape victim brought into a hospital is not in any position to ‘shop around’ for a provider to meet her needs, and hence the state has made provisions of such services a basic requirement for a license. We might regret this (in which case a clear remedy is available), but given the use of a state sanction by the hospital, it is clearly bound to the state’s regulation.

    In the case we are discussing, if there were no limits or licenses for cabs in the airport in question, then the cabbies behavior (offensive though it might be) would be something we could tolerate. There is an artificially imposed limit on cabs (something that the cabbie benefits from, in the form of higher fares and assured business)however, and as long as it exists, those who benefit from it cannot have it both ways.

    There are inevitable tensions in any society with multiple cultures and a generally high level of diversity. I have always been a strong proponent of the ‘melting pot’ approach because (among other things) it tends to reduce the underlying tensions over time. Our (foolish and ultimately self-destructive) indulgence of identity politics is what is to blame here…

  20. And it’s possible that we might lose Catholic hospitals as a result.

    I guess we’ll see.

    I refer to myself an a monoculturalist as a joke sometimes. I want the culture to be inclusive and accepting of surface level difference, but core values and unity are essentual. The myth/idea/legend/value of the melting pot served us well for a long time.

    I think we have to be prepared to fight about what the core values are, and it seems to me that religious tolerance has been one. That’s part of why it’s difficult to resist as effectively as we probably could.

    It seems like it ought to be easier is more secular countries of western Europe, but they seem to be having a worse time.

  21. Andy Freeman says:

    > A rape victim brought into a hospital is not in any position to ’shop around’ for a provider to meet her needs

    In many cases, the person bringing her in IS in a position to ‘shop around’ because taking rape victims to hospitals is part of that person’s job.