Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Muslim woman cites gym after interrupted prayer

Culture: There seems to be some details left out of the incident.

DEARBORN -- Fitness USA, a gym chain, is investigating an alleged civil rights violation involving a local Muslim woman who says her afternoon prayer was interrupted by a fellow patron, and that her complaint to management about the situation was rejected. "The manager told me, 'You have to respect her (the patron), but she does not have to respect your God,' " said Wardeh Sultan of Dearborn. "I've had my membership for seven or eight years, and I've never had a problem with praying there. "I told that manager, 'I can't believe you said that' " Sultan said. "Honestly, I feel humiliated and I feel ashamed, right now, to go back to Fitness USA."
Interesting enough, WXYZ 7 Action News carried this blurb.
Gym Member Chastised for Praying By 7 Action News December 5, 2006 A member of Fitness USA said she wouldn’t be returning to the Dearborn facility after she was told she couldn’t pray there. The woman, who didn’t want to be identified, said another patron complained to the manager that she was praying in the locker room. The woman said she had done this before without a problem. The manager said she was not allowed to pray in the gym and demanded her membership card saying, "You have to respect the patron, but the patron doesn’t have to respect your god." The woman said she would no longer be working out at Fitness USA.
A couple of things stand out. 1) Praying in a locker room is filthy, unless this is a new thread where some Muslims don't realize they can double up on prayers and its not an exact timetable. 2) How did she go from not wanting publicity to having been pushed out to the limelight in one paper so far? I think we can point to this guy.
Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which lodged a formal complaint with Fitness USA on behalf of Sultan, said the recent spate of conflicts results from a growing intolerance of Islam and a growing restiveness among Muslims that their rights to speak freely and worship are increasingly at risk. "They (Muslims) are resenting that they are to be suppressed from expressing themselves freely, like others," Hamad said. "It's OK for a Christian fellow or a Jewish fellow to pray, and it would be regarded highly and respected. When it comes to a person of Muslim faith, especially if a woman is wearing the head cover or a man with a typical clergy outfit, yeah, it is becoming like something that is offensive to people and making them nervous."
3) Not withstanding the grandstanding, More details would be in order as we have only one side of the story. She started to pray in a locker room, some other woman passes by and snaps at her, she goes to the manager and he/she snaps at her as well? Considering this is the same FITNESS USA branch that implemented this policy.
The allegations are among a series of recent complaints by Muslims who say they are free to practice their religion in the United States, until someone tells them they cannot. Recently, the same Fitness USA facility enacted a new dress code to allow Muslim women to wear more modest clothing, in compliance with some Islamic practices.
You would think since she has been there for years and praying along with other patrons it would be commonplace to people at the gym. It is located in Dearborn for crying out loud. Something is off with this story.

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