When a single dad signed up his nine-year-old daughter for female-only swim lessons in a public pool, he didn’t realize he would be forced to submit to the rules of sharia law, which forbid any man from looking at Muslim women in a pool, even though Muslim women wear full body bags for swimming.
Toronto Sun (h/t Susan K) Chris (who didn’t want his last name published) was shocked when he had the blinds to the viewing area of the Dennis R. Timbrell Recreation Centre pool in Flemingdon Park shut on him and then was told by staffers it was for “religious reasons.” “I spoke to a staff member and she told me that it’s because of Muslim women, that we’re not allowed to look at them or whatever,” Chris, 38, told the Toronto Sun Friday. “I don’t think religion has a role to play in a public pool.”
Nowhere on the form did it mention that males could not watch the lessons. So, when he showed up with his child at the pool on March 28 and again on Thursday night, he was confused when told he wasn’t allowed to watch.
“She doesn’t have a lot of friends and I wanted her to swim with girls,” Chris explained. “I don’t know what parent wouldn’t want to watch their child participate. There were other fathers there who weren’t too happy.”
Local Councillor John Parker hadn’t heard of the particular case until the Sun contacted him Friday, but said the dad’s point is a “legitimate one” and raises a “fair issue.”
Female-only swim programs began 20 years ago on the basis of “accommodating (Muslim) cultural and religious practices and requirements,” confirmed city aquatics manager Anne Jackson.
“Without a female-only program, there would be Muslim women that wouldn’t be able to participate in swimming,” Jackson said. “This is the way it needs to be in order to accommodate the programs. We’re not opening the door to one cultural group only — this is all females we’re accommodating.”