Some Fear Public Accommodation of Muslim Women's Dress Will Cause Backlash

June 13, 2006

Source: USA Today

On June 13, 2006 USA Today reported, "Muslim women in the USA have been asking the public to accommodate their religious beliefs about modesty, a trend that some Muslims worry will provoke a backlash. In some recent examples: In Lincoln Park, Mich., Fitness USA relented when Muslim women demanded that the gym wall off a co-ed aerobic center from their women-only section because men could see them working out. In Bridgeview, Ill., a Muslim school says it wants its girls' basketball team to play road games against non-Muslim schools provided the public schools ban men and teenage boys from the game. In North Seattle, Wash., a public pool set up a swim time for Muslim women in which men, even male lifeguards, are banned. In all of the examples, businesses and public facilities were asked to accommodate followers of one interpretation of Islamic law that says the sexes must be separate if women are not covered with headscarves and modest clothing. Meeting such demands could create a backlash against Muslims, says Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which advocates separation of religion and government. 'In the long term it does not serve to build friends and bridges with the Western community,' says Jasser, a Muslim. 'You're not going to make your American, Christian and Jewish friends to feel comfortable ... which in the end could create a dislike for Muslims that is unnatural.' But other Muslims see the trend as an issue of civil rights."