Britain: Muslim ‘Cultural Sensitivity’ Runs Amok. By Soeren Kern
The largest university in London plans to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol on campus to accommodate the “cultural sensitivity” of its Muslim students.
London Metropolitan University’s Vice Chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, says it would be unwise to “cling” to a “nostalgic” view where the vast majority wants alcohol to be available. Instead, he says that he believes the university should take account of diverging views, namely those of Muslims, who now comprise 20% of the university’s 30,000 students.
“Many of our students do come from backgrounds where they actually look on drinking as a negative. We therefore need to rethink how we cater for that 21st-century balance,” Gillies declared in an interview. “What we don’t want is the tyranny of a majority view,” he added.
Gillies’ proposals to re-engineer social life on campus have, not surprisingly, generated a mostly negative response from students, many of whom say a ban on alcohol smacks of politically correct pandering run amok.
Muslims, too, are unhappy with Gillies. Far from thanking him for his multicultural activism, Muslims say they are “offended” by his “generalizing about their beliefs.”
To be sure, London Metropolitan University is not the first institution in Britain to bend over backwards to avoid “offending” Muslims. In fact, hardly a day goes by in which Britons are not surrendering some aspect of their culture and traditions — not to mention their rights of free speech and free expression — in order to make Britain safe for Islam.
British schools increasingly are dropping the Jewish Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, according to a report entitled Teaching Emotive and Controversial History, which was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills. British teachers are also reluctant to discuss the medieval Crusades – in which Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem — because lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.
British social welfare offices have banned novelty pig calendars and toys lest they offend Muslims. Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, for example, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.
In West Yorkshire, the Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley has banned stories featuring pigs, including “The Three Little Pigs,” in case they offend Muslim children.
In Nottingham, the Greenwood Primary School cancelled a Christmas nativity play because it interfered with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. In Scarborough, the Yorkshire Coast College removed the words Christmas and Easter from their calendar not to offend Muslims. In Scotland, the Tayside Police Department apologized for featuring a German shepherd puppy as part of a campaign to publicize its new non-emergency telephone number. The postcards are potentially offensive to the city’s 3,000-strong Muslim community: Islamic legal tradition says that dogs are impure.
The British Girl Scout Association has designed new uniforms especially for Muslims students, who had “issues” with the existing range of clothing.
In Sheffield, a five-year-old girl had her passport form rejected when an official said the bare shoulders on her photograph could offend Muslims.
Muslim doctors and nurses in Britain are now allowed to opt out of strict hygiene rules introduced by the National Health Service to restrict the spread of hospital superbugs. The change was made after female Muslims objected to being required to expose their arm below the elbow under guidance introduced to reduce the number of patients who were falling ill, and even dying, from bacteria.
Meanwhile, in South Yorkshire, an elderly woman in a nursing home died after she suffered a fall and was left lying on the floor bleeding because the Muslim nurse, Abdul Bhutto, said he had to finish his prayers before he could help the woman.
In Oldham, a breastfeeding mother was evicted from a waiting room in city hall (aka a “multicultural” building) to avoid offending Muslims. British law allows nursing mothers to breastfeed in public.
In Glasgow, a Christian radio show host was fired after a debate between a Muslim and a Christian on whether Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” In Birmingham, two Christians were told by police “you can’t preach here, this is a Muslim area.” In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their religious education class. Also in Cheshire, a 14-year-old Roman Catholic girl who attends Ellesmere Port Catholic High School was branded a truant by teachers for refusing to dress like a Muslim and visit a mosque.
In Liverpool, a Christian couple was forced to sell their hotel after a female Muslim guest accused the pair of insulting her during a debate about Islam. In London, Rory Bremner, a political comedian, said that every time he writes a sketch about Islam, he fears that he is signing his own death warrant. Also in London, Scotland Yard says that Muslims who launch a shoe at another person are not committing a crime because the practice is Islamic symbolism.
In Kent, police have been banned from asking for a person’s “Christian” name, in case this request offends Muslims. The Kent Police Department’s 62-page ‘Faith and Culture Resource’ guide tells officers to use “personal and family name” instead of “Christian” name.
In East London, all elected members of Tower Hamlets town council were told not to eat during daylight hours in town hall meetings during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Special arrangements were also made to disrupt council meetings to allow for Muslim prayer. Meanwhile, the council renamed a staff Christmas party as a “festive meal.”
In Leicester, a gang of Somali Muslim women who assaulted and nearly killed a non-Muslim passer-by in the city center walked free after a politically correct judge decided that as Muslims, the women were “not used to being drunk.”
Elsewhere in Britain, a foster mother was struck off the social services register for allowing a Muslim girl in her care to convert to Christianity. Officials insist the woman, who has looked after more than 80 children in the past ten years, failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have tried to stop the baptism. They ruled that the girl, 17, should stay away from church for six months.
In London, the Harrow Council provoked a storm of protest after announcing plans to offer Islamic halal-only menus in the borough’s 52 state primary schools. Parents are outraged that meat prepared according to Islamic Sharia law is being pushed on non-Muslim children. Meanwhile, most of the in-flight meals on British Airways could soon be halal. The airline also says Muslim staff may wear veils, but Christian employees may not wear crosses.
In West Yorkshire, an electrician working for a housing association in Wakefield was told he would be fired for placing a small palm cross on the dashboard of his van. His employer said the cross could be offensive to Muslims: “Wakefield and District Housing has a stance of neutrality. We now have different faiths, new emerging cultures. We have to be respectful of all views and beliefs.”
In London, a Christian employee at Heathrow Airport was fired for exposing a campaign of systematic harassment by fundamentalist Muslims.
In Leicester, furious Muslims demanded that Walkers, a British snack food manufacturer owned by PepsiCo, demanded that the company change its packaging labels after it emerged that certain varieties of its potato chips contain small amounts of trace alcohol to extract certain flavors.
Across Britain, Muslim bus and taxi drivers are telling blind passengers that they cannot bring their “unclean” dogs on board. The problem of prohibiting guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was recently raised in the House of Lords.
In Reading, one pensioner, a cancer sufferer, was repeatedly confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog. He also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal. In Nottingham, a Muslim taxi driver refused to carry a blind man because he was accompanied by his guide dog. The taxi driver was later fined £300 ($470).
In Stafford, a Muslim taxi driver refused to carry an elderly blind couple from a grocery store because they were accompanied by their seeing-eye dog. In Tunbridge Wells, Kent, a blind man was turned away from an Indian restaurant because the owner said it was against his Muslim beliefs to allow dogs into his establishment.
In London, a bus driver prevented a woman from boarding a bus with her dog because there was a Muslim lady on the bus who “might be upset by the dog.” As the woman attempted to complain, the doors closed and the bus drove away. When a second bus arrived, she again tried to embark, but was stopped again, this time because the driver said he was Muslim.
In Britain, police sniffer dogs trained to spot terrorists at train stations may no longer come into contact with Muslim passengers, following complaints that it was offensive to their religion. Sniffer dogs used by police to search mosques and Muslim homes are now being fitted with leather bootees to cover their paws so they do not cause offense.
In British prisons, radical Muslim gangs are imposing Sharia law on non-Muslim inmates, who have been forced to stop playing Western music, take down pictures of women from their cells and stop eating sausage. The gangs are also targeting non-Muslim inmates for forced conversions to Islam.
In Leeds, more than 200 Muslim inmates at a high security prison are set to launch a multi-million pound claim for compensation after they were offered ham sandwiches during the month of Ramadan. They say their human rights were breached when they were offered the meat, which is forbidden by Islam. At the same time, Muslim sex offenders serving time in British prisons are asking to be exempt from a prison treatment program because the idea that “criminals should not have to talk about their offenses” is a “legitimate Islamic position.”
Meanwhile, Muslim prisoners in Britain are being given fresh clothes and bedding after sniffer dogs search their cells. The inmates say their bedclothes and prison uniforms must be changed according to Islamic law if they have come anywhere near dog saliva. Government rules mean prison wardens must hand out replacement sets after random drug searches to avoid religious discrimination claims. The dogs have also been banned from touching copies of the Islamic holy book the Koran and other religious items. Prisoners now receive special bags to protect the articles.
At the same time, the British government has spent thousands of pounds of taxpayer money to rebuild prison toilets so that Muslim inmates do not have to use them while facing Mecca. Islam prohibits Muslims from facing or turning their backs on the Kiblah — the direction of prayer — when they visit the lavatory. After pressure from Muslim, who claimed they had to sit sideways on prison WCs, the Home Office agreed to turn the existing toilets 90 degrees.
Muslims attending the 2012 Olympic Games in London will be relieved to learn that toilet facilities at London’s Olympic Park are being built so they will not have to face Mecca while sitting on the loo.
Nevertheless, the 2012 London Olympics have been plunged into controversy by the discovery that the Games will clash with Ramadan. In 2012, Ramadan will take place from July 21 to August 20, while the Olympics run from July 27 to August 12. Muslims have asked for the games to be rescheduled.
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.