Muslims are not the only ones who follow special practices for Ramadan, which coincides with September this year. While adherents of the Islamic faith fast from dawn till dusk, adherents of the multicultural faith spend the month bending over backwards to accommodate Muslim needs, both real and imagined. Three fresh examples come to us courtesy of European officialdom.
In France, a court has postponed a trial after a lawyer argued that starting it in the middle of Ramadan would leave the defendant at a disadvantage:
His client, a Muslim, would have been fasting for two weeks and thus, he said, be in no position to defend himself properly.
Government minister Fadela Amara slammed the ruling, calling it a "knife wound" in France's renowned secularism. And she is a Muslim.
Across the channel, Her Majesty's Prison Service has spent £25,000 — almost $50,000 — on metal lunchboxes so Muslims incarcerated at Belmarsh Prison can keep their meals warm as they wait for the sundown feast. Some have questioned the wisdom of granting this privilege to convicts, many of whom are Muslim extremists, including hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza:
Prison officers at Belmarsh have criticized the move, fearing the 18-inch-long containers, which resemble a tool box, could be used as a weapon.
One prison source told the Sun: "It's madness to allow dangerous prisoners to have a metal box with handles. These are not petty criminals — these are hardened terrorists."
A Prison Service spokesman argued that the role of incarceration is not to restrict religious practice. True enough. However, one imagines that feeding all convicts cold sandwiches might have been a cheaper solution.
Finally, an East London town council has asked its members to adhere to Islamic mores during meetings this month, so as not to offend Muslims. That means no food or drink before sunset and a long recess for the traditional fast-breaking. Columnist Stephen Pollard sums it up best:
As far as I am aware, the United Kingdom has not yet been absorbed into the Caliphate. The last time I checked, we allow citizens to practice all religions and none. If I wish to stuff my face with chocolate during the fasting hours of Ramadan, I will. And if you wish to go out for a slap-up lunch on Yom Kippur, you can feel free.
Enjoy that chocolate while you can, Stephen.