Nov 15 2010
In submission to SHARIA LAW, the university, at the request of the Muslim Students’ Association, began offering female-only swim hours.
GW HATCHET When Zainah Khan packed for GW last year, she left her swimsuit behind. The Saudi Arabian native knew she wouldn’t be able to swim in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center because it is open to both male and female students.
If she donned a bathing suit in HelWell, the sophomore would risk being seen without her hijab – a headscarf worn by some Muslim women in public – and in immodest clothing, which goes against the basic tenants of her religion. But this fall, Khan and other female followers of the Islam religion have the opportunity to dive in.
Last week, the Muslim Students’ Association and the University opened up “Sisters’ Splash,” a female-only hour at the pool.
Every week, GW plans to close the HelWell pool to men and will cover the glass door with a dark tarp, giving female Muslim students the chance to swim at their leisure. The University also hired a female lifeguard to be on duty for each week’s event.
Aliya Karim, the social chair of the MSA’s women’s group, said the organization made the effort to coordinate the swimming hour so fellow Muslims would feel comfortable in the pool.
“Personally, I would only want to go when just girls are there,” Karim, who is also a Hatchet photographer, said.
USA TODAY Despite the naysayers, Sisters’ Splash, as it’s called, is not the only special accommodation that a college has made for Muslim students. George Washington already has foot baths for pre-prayer rituals, and a handful of other institutions — including the University of Michigan-Dearborn and George Mason University — have them as well. In 2008, at the request of female Muslim students, Harvard University ran a one-semester pilot program that reserved six hours a week for female students only at one of its lesser-used gyms, though the program was discontinued after that semester. There’s also Gamma Gamma Chi Sorority Inc., an Islamic-based sorority that has five regional chapters, though not all are active.
Shelley Mountjoy, a doctoral student at George Mason who briefly attended George Washington as an undergraduate, takes issue with the foot baths at George Mason and with other religious accommodations at public universities. She is afraid that policies
like the female-only swim hour will have a domino effect and spread to other colleges. “I don’t want my tuition dollars
paying to accommodate somebody’s religion,” she said. “It’s not the entire campus’s religion. We don’t all have to subscribe to Islamic law.”
John L. Esposito, a (notorious IslamoFascist apologist) professor and founding director of Georgetown University‘s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, said many of the negative reactions undoubtedly stem from an “Islamophobia.”
Accusations of racism are not difficult to come by. “We’ve seen a number of these kinds of programs around the country. I think it goes way beyond Muslim women; I think there are enough women who would be more comfortable swimming in a same-sex environment that it would be of interest to women of all faiths in America,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the TERRORIST FRONT GROUP (CAIR) Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There is a cottage industry of Muslim-bashers that look for any opportunity to marginalize American Muslims or to demonize Islam, and any denomination of Islam in our society is going to be targeted by these people.”