Thursday, August 28, 2008

No sandwich for you

I love holidays, I do. If you got a feasting, dancing, singing, wear-a-silly-hat and jump up and down like a fool holiday, I'm all for it. As long as it's free and it doesn't clash with work, I might even join in.

But scourging and fasting just aren't my bag. I'm not big into ashes or penance either. Sorry. I understand it's importance, but I'm not in the game of collecting suffer tokens. Thanks, anyway.

And so, we're now almost into the season of Ramadan. You want to fast. Fine. Go ahead. But I'm not planning to do anything special for Ramadan. (I'll happily eat any Eid food, though.) I'm not planning to make much in the way of special considerations for those who do want to fast during daylight hours. I'll still eat lunch at my desk, but I won't offer you any special treats. Deal?

But at Tower Hamlets, everybody has to observe:

Muslim council leaders have sparked outrage after trying to ban all councillors eating in meetings until sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.

Politicians have hit out after the move to impose hardline Islamic rules on non-Muslim colleagues throughout September.

The bombshell has been dropped by Labour chiefs of the notoriously loony Tower Hamlets Council in east London.

The storm was sparked by an email sent to all councillors this week highlighting arrangements for Town Hall committee meetings next month, which marks the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan.

Oh, dear.

These are evening meetings and many of these councillors have jobs and are coming straight from their places of employment and they won't get out until very late. No tea, no sandwich for them. And it's rare that you'll go to a meeting in the UK where at least biscuits aren't on offer (unless I've arranged the meeting, I rarely order biscuits). But I guess that's out, too.

Some councillors (the ones in political opposition) are outraged and say this appears to be favouring one religion over another. I'd tend to agree.

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