The Daily Telegraph reports that London Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, a third of whose constituents are Muslim, has condemned the Muslim tradition of separating men and women at weddings.
Fitzpatrick and his wife walked out of the marriage ceremony of a constituent after discovering they would have to sit in separate rooms. He claimed the gender segregation was a sign of increasing radicalisation and was damaging to social cohesion.
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the Telegraph:
“I think in the interest of cohesion it would be better if Mr Fitzpatrick established more contact with the Muslim community. It shows a lack of interest on the part of the MP to engage with people with different backgrounds and sadly it reflects badly on him.
“If he had a little bit of knowledge he would have found it was quite normal and nothing unusual for them to enjoy the celebration in this way. There are some who prefer segregated events and some where they are joined together. We live in a society where we need to respect all traditions.”
George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow who will stand against against Mr Fitzgerald in the general election, said:
“If he doesn’t wish to attend an Islamic wedding and observe the religious customs preferred by the bride and groom, he should not go rather than insult them for perceived political gain. I am absolutely amazed and astonished that a Government minister with a substantial Muslim minority in his constituency should have decided to give such a gratuitous insult to so many Muslims.”
Even the Telegraph‘s foreign editor describes Fitzpatrick’s response as “foolish and inappropriate” – though some of us might question whether Adrian “demographic time bomb” Michaels is really concerned about the Muslim community or perhaps rather more interested in exploiting the issue for party political advantage.
Elsewhere in the paper the Telegraph continues to pursue its scaremongering campaign about the Islamification of Europe. In an article headlined “Mohammed is most popular boy’s name in four biggest Dutch cities” it reports:
“Geert Wilders, leader of the far-Right, anti-Islam Freedom Party, which is currently leading the Dutch opinion polls, has demanded a government investigation following the Daily Telegraph’s Aug 8 report that over a fifth of the European Union’s population has been forecast to be Muslim by 2050.”
Also “Muslim Wedding: MP Fitzpatrick out of touch with Muslim constituents”, Islamic Forum Europe statement.
And Shelina Zahra Janmohamed’s comments at Faith Central.