To misquote the famous Monty Python line.
Respect for the faith of others – essential. Tolerance – absolutely. Consideration – admirable. But to impose the rules of any one religion upon others is surely going far too far. Yet this appears to be the case with Tower Hamlets Council in East London.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the Muslim chief of the Council is imposing strict observance of the rules of Ramadan, the month of fasting, on all council members, regardless of their individual faiths.
During Ramadan, strict Muslims are obliged to fast between sunrise and sundown and must abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, tobacco, and any kind of sexual contact. The restrictions are, at least, only being imposed during council meetings, so there shouldn’t be too many objections to the last requirement, but even still.
If non-Muslims choose to forego the traditional tea and biccies served during council meetings, or postpone it until after sunset, that’s one thing. An admirable gesture, courteous and a sign of respect. But for it to be forced upon people?
Would any strict Catholic ever dream of forcing a ‘fish on Friday’ rule on members of another faith?
In addition to restricting food and drink until after sunset, the authority’s leaders have decided to reduce the number of meetings throughout the month of September so they do not clash with the requirements of Ramadan. Fair enough. Provided, of course, this does not seriously inconvenience others. The best solution would be to discuss the matter and, if no suitable agreement could be reached, cancel the meetings altogether!
Tower Hamlets Council are no strangers to controversy. The annual Christmas dinner was renamed a ‘festive meal’ and the Bonfire Night party featured a Bengal tiger instead of Guy Fawkes. Must check my history books, but I have a sneaky feeling it wasn’t a Bengal tiger that tried to blow up parliament. Could be wrong, though.