Here’s a roundup of some recent news.
Ex-minister speaks up (ST, 13 August 2009)
[Dr. Seet Ai Mee] said in… [a] magazine, that she had washed her hands after shaking the hands of pork sellers in a market, not a fishmonger.
‘I washed my hands…simply because I thought that if I shake the hand of another person later who may be Muslim, it would be a religious offence,’ said Dr Seet, now aged 66… ‘After we met a butcher, she showed me an oily hand and mentioned that she needed to wash it in case she met a Muslim, as she could not in all conscience offer her hand when it was covered with pork grease,’ Ms Tan wrote.
Based solely on the news article, I think that is very considerate of her to regard the religious sensitivity of people she’s meeting with. But of course, if the Muslim she’s meeting is a male, she should remember not to shake his hand.
French pool bans ‘burkini’ swim (BBC, 12 August 2009)
The woman had swum in July in the pool in Emerainville, east of Paris, in the “burkini” – a loose-fitting garment resembling a wetsuit with a hood.
But staff stopped her from swimming in August, citing hygiene concerns.
It comes as the government examines ways to limit burka use after the president said they reduced dignity.
The Straits Times reported that
An official in charge of swimming pools for the Emerainville region, Daniel Guillaume, said the refusal to allow the local woman to swim in her ‘burquini’ had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with public health standards.
‘These clothes are used in public, so they can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers,’ Mr Guillaume said in a telephone interview.
Perhaps misunderstood, the burkini is actually a fitting clothing designed for women who wants to cover themselves while swimming. It is therefore a swimming gear, and as such not worn except when swimming.
Locally, it is still quite common to see people (of all religious beliefs) in the pool, swimming in anything from t-shirts to pyjamas. Those who adhere to proper swimming attire will be dressed in proper swimming gears, with the adherent Muslims ladies opting for the burkini-type swimwear. In fact, it is made of normal swimsuit material.
Unhygienic? Far from it. It is no different than a full-body swimwear and a swimcap, except modified to cover the neck.
So why the ban?
Related: Of Veil and Oppression