Excerpt:

Later this month it's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It's one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar, so I'd be obliged, please, if you'd all stay at home, turn off the TV and refrain from your usual activities. Ten days after that it's Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews fast and spend the day in synagogue. So I've also asked my Times colleagues not to work then. And I will be mightily offended if I learn afterwards that any of them have been eating.

You might not think I am being serious. But if I was Head of Democratic Services at Tower Hamlets Council in East London, I would be. Last week John Williams e-mailed each of the borough's 51 councillors with a similar instruction.

For the duration of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, they are, he told them - every one of them, Muslim, Catholic, Jew or atheist - to behave during council meetings as strict Muslims. They are not to eat or drink; they are to break for Muslim prayers; they are to do as they are ordered by the Muslim religion.


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