Council-sponsored Muslim-only No-go Area

And they said there were no no-go areas.

In January, when Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali suggested in The Sunday Telegraph that some areas had become no-go zones for non-Muslims, he was excoriated on all sides. His fellow Anglican bishops distanced themselves from him. From Muslims he received death threats.

Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington has Muslim-only swimming on Sunday mornings. Actually, it is Muslim males-only swimming. I don’t have any problem with separate sessions for men. After all, leisure pools have long had some of their facilities set apart at times for women. And as long as there is equal access, I got no problem with that.

But Clissold Leisure Centre owned by Hackney Borough Council in north London doesn’t have a Christians-only swimming session.

So have Muslims created this no-go area? No. The Muslims don’t mind swimming with Christians. It’s the leisure centre employees who have done it. After David Toube and his son we refused admission, even by a manager, they went back several days later to speak to another leisure centre employee, who confirmed the Muslims-only policy.

Since this hit the news, the leisure centre’s tune has changed. Seems they don’t want to openly discriminate in the face of media exposure. The sessions may still be for Muslim men, but they now say that staff cannot ask about someone’s religion or refuse them entry if they don’t appear to be Muslim.

Busking

One thing London has to offer is a variety of buskers. Just about every Tube station has one. Some have more.

The legality of it all is quite confusing.  There was a blind man playing an accordion just down from a sign saying buskers would be fined £200. Clearly he didn’t see the sign. At another station there was a painted (or carefully tiled) semi-circle area on the floor which seemed to be created for busking. I favour the latter approach, as busking really is a London institution. Do people really complain?

The quality ranges from almost professional to atonally bizarre. At one station a hip-hopper with a wireless mike started singing about the kids making up lyrics as we walked by and followed us for a short distance. Then there was the man with no legs who played one note on a pipe of some kind. He just tooted the one note at random intervals.

Disability did seem to be a recurring theme. I suppose that when opportunity or academic inclination hasn’t offset physical handicap, begging is a reasonable recourse. And buskers are actually putting some effort into their work – or in the case of the tooting double amp, at least making a noise to get noticed.

And there are those who seem to be making a lifestyle choice. Two or three times a day, you come across the really talented. These are the ones that should be playing in a band somewhere. Maybe they do in the evenings.

The most memorable busker I have ever heard – in fact, the only one I can remember from more than three days ago – was a Afro-Caribbean man playing classical music on a steel drum at the bottom of an escalator. It was in 1992. I don’t remember the Tube station.  He was playing Für Elise by Beethoven.

Return from a Brief Hiatus

I just got back from London. My wife doesn’t like me blogging about my family, so I won’t say who I was with other than it was with a woman and two small children.

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