Fury as women banned from pool for ‘Muslim men’s sessions ONLY’
- Men and women-only sessions will be held at the Inspire Sports Village
- The move will give men exclusive access to larger 160ft, eight-lane pool
- Meanwhile women will be relegated to the smaller 65ft community pool
- Swimmer claims she was told the decision was down to ‘cultural reasons’
A taxpayer-funded community swimming pool has sparked outrage by hosting men and women-only sessions for alleged ‘cultural reasons’.
The gender-segregated time slots came into place on July 29 and give men exclusive access to the larger 160ft, eight-lane competition pool at the Inspire Sports Village.
During these periods, women will be relegated to the smaller 65ft community pool at the sports facility in Stopsley, Luton.
Abdul-Wadud Ahmed, 31, said more than 40 swimmers attended the first new permanent session last Friday, which he hopes will grow in the near future.
He added: ‘There is a large demand for it, one of the reasons being that swimming is a prophetic activity where Muhammad, peace be upon Him, encourages Muslim men and women to swim.
‘The second point is of religious reasons where there is sensitivity around men and women mixing and exposing of each other’s bodies which means that there is a demand to have these segregated lessons.
‘The final thing is that Luton has a very large Muslim population so there was a demand so it made sense to get those together in the same facility and Active Luton have a great one.’
Mr Ahmed added: ‘My phone has been going off the hook with people asking about it and we haven’t received any negative feedback from anyone. I just hope it grows and one day there can be swimming lessons too.’
One outraged female swimmer, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘The Friday night session for everyone is now closed because of the listed men-only sessions.’
‘I have asked a team leader about it – as there are no managers at the weekend – and he said it was a “cultural thing”.
‘Why has one section of the community in Luton been allowed to dominate and take over the best pool in the borough?
‘I like swimming in the competition pool after a hard week at work on Fridays and now I can’t without any discussion and very little advanced notice.’
The gender-segregated sessions are being advertised as ‘Alhamdulliah swimming’ on Facebook, a Muslim phrase which thanks God for his blessings.
Posters promoting the event, which were implemented last Friday, strictly ask that ‘navel to knee must be covered’.
The 2011 census showed a quarter of Luton’s 196,173 population (a 2010 mid-year estimate) is Muslim, up 25 per cent on 2001.
It also reveals that Islam
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