BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story


5:55 pm - July 12th 2010

by Guest    


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contribution by Expose the BNP

On the front page of the BBC website today is this story: “Schools told ‘no swimming in Ramadan’ for Muslim pupils”

In fact this is a recycled “news” story from three years ago, when it was the front page of the Daily Express on Feb 21, 2007, under the headline: “MUSLIMS TELL US HOW TO RUN OUR SCHOOLS“.

Here is the Express front page itself.

Far from wanting to ban swimming during Ramadan, the Muslim Council of Britain makes it clear that: “In general, participation in swimming is an acceptable activity whilst fasting”

It seems entirely unacceptable for the BBC to jump on the anti-Muslim bandwaggon in such a poorly researched and ill-thought-out manner – let alone to recyle 3-year-old news from the Daily Express.

The BBC’s story comes barely a week after an Express front page claimed: “Muslims face pool cover-up”, about Muslims wanting swimming pool windows to be blacked out.

This was demolished and lampooned on the “Now” show (22min in) this weekend, and also here.

Please complain here

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Reader comments


Far from wanting to ban swimming during Ramadan, the Muslim Council of Britain makes it clear that: “In general, participation in swimming is an acceptable activity whilst fasting”

If you follow the link, what the MCB actually says after that snippet is this:

However, for many pupils this activity may prove to be an issue, as the potential for swallowing water is very high. Some pupils or parents consider the risk too great and may wish to avoid swimming whilst fasting. Others may take the view that as swallowing is unintentional it does not break the fast.

Schools with a significant number of Muslim pupils should try to avoid scheduling swimming lessons during Ramadan to remove unnecessary barriers to full participation.

Please complain to Liberal Conspiracy here.

The difficulty is that the BBC article is totally different in alleged facts from the old stories you cite.

I would be more inclined to make a complaint if you had offered evidence that the leaflet from the council either doesn’t exist or is being misreported.

3. Matt Munro

I’m not sure what you are saying – the issue wasn’t swimming per se (as made clear in the BBC article) but the possibility of swallowing water (it’s pretty much impossible to swim without swallowing water) whilst fasting. Are you saying it’s permissble to swallow water, or that the advice not to swim wasn’t given out ? (Which it obviously was – at para 2 of the MCGB advice).

4. Matt Munro

I’ve just read the “name” of the OP poster. Can we not have this kind of SWP lunacy on a “liberal” site please

@3/4

Actually, the MCB guidence says that some Muslims don’t mind swimming in Ramadan, and some do. Which is also what Stoke council said. All fairly reasonable, I think. Hardly cause for the inflammatory headline used by the Beeb. And why does exposing the BNP make one a SWP lunatic?

Peter – is English comprehension a problem for you? The MCB says some Muslims might not want to swim during Ramadan.

What the hell does that have to do with a pool supposedly “covering up” just for Muslims? And it wasn’t even just Muslims who complained. And even then it wasn’t “covered up”.

Complain by all means, but I’m just going to laugh at you.

Ian – the BBC headline is simply untrue. What more would you like?

Matt – when I need your advice on what content we should have on here, I’ll ask. But it won’t be anytime soon, thank for the offer though.

@Matt Munro the MCB advice says some will consider it acceptable and some won’t, but I’m not sure what that’s really got to do with anything. We’re not debating whether swimming is or isn’t a suitable activity for Muslims during Ramadan, we’re debating the content and presentation of the BBC article.

The article is misleading, the headline states “no swimming during Ramadan”, in quotation marks, despite there being no statement to that effect anywhere. It doesn’t link to the full, original guidance, and doesn’t state that that guidance is three years old. This isn’t new news, it isn’t properly referenced, as for some reason BBC online never is, which makes it hard for the reader to tell that it’s not new or to find out the context properly, and it’s misleadingly presented to the point of bias. That’s the problem.

Actually, the MCB guidence says that some Muslims don’t mind swimming in Ramadan, and some do.

Yes, it does. It also says this:

“Schools with a significant number of Muslim pupils should try to avoid scheduling swimming lessons during Ramadan to remove unnecessary barriers to full participation.”

Which is what the council guidance says too, word for word.

What an extraordinarily silly and stupidly misleading post. If the person who wrote it isn’t a swuppie, he or she would certainly be a perfect fit with that party.

9. Chaise Guevara

“I’ve just read the “name” of the OP poster. Can we not have this kind of SWP lunacy on a “liberal” site please”

What’s wrong with Expose the BNP? (Genuine question, BTW, haven’t come across them before.)

10. Chaise Guevara

“Yes, it does. It also says this:

“Schools with a significant number of Muslim pupils should try to avoid scheduling swimming lessons during Ramadan to remove unnecessary barriers to full participation.” ”

In fairness, school generally manage to avoid scheduling lessons at Christmas too.

Peter – is English comprehension a problem for you?

That’s very funny when it is followed by this:

What the hell does that have to do with a pool supposedly “covering up” just for Muslims?

Er, I haven’t said anything at all about the pool “covering up”.

Er, I haven’t said anything at all about the pool “covering up”.

In which case you’re wasting people’s time by trying to divert them by complaining about something that isn’t an issue (see Alisdair above).

Please go on, send a complaint to me. Go on! I want to read it.

complaining about something that isn’t an issue

Yes, a post about shoddy reporting is itself an example of shoddy reporting. But this is “not an issue”.

Do carry on.

I’d blame in part the BBC’s weird rule that all stories must have a headline of between 31 and 33 characters. Leads to some very strange ones.

@14 is that really a rule?

I think anyone following the OPs lead will get a bit of egg on face. The BBC do publish a link to the new, just published advice from Staffs SACRE. Anyone who is a bit savvy may decide to follow the link, readers who are a bit more savvy will realise that the guidelines issued by the SACRE to the council are identical to the MCB guidelines that generated the Excess story from three years ago. It is the council who are doing the recycling, not the BBC.

Interesting that the knee jerk response is to complain to the BBC, rather than, for example, aquainting oneself with the situation.

This article conflates at least two completely different stories.

16: ok, so how is “council continues to publish the same leaflet it first published several years ago” news? Apparently Penguin has just published this amazing book called Great Expectations, can we run a review…?

17: no it doesn’t, it lists them and makes them clearly separate, unless you’re seriously hard-of-thinking. The kids-swimming advice, which is the same news now that it was three years ago, is clearly separate from the made-up swimming-pool-window-removing advice, which is last week’s stupidity.

@18 You are right. Although illustrating the main story with a large, uncaptioned image of the oh-by-the-way-this addendum does indicate the writer is seriously hard-of-communicating.

18: You seem confused, it was not Staffs council who released it three years ago. The complaint seems to be based upon the fact that the BBC should have checked if any similar stories had ever been published, locally? nationally? And then inform readers of the same similar stories, because if they don’t they are mis-representing the current story.

let alone to recyle 3-year-old news from the Daily Express

The story was covered by many sources three years ago, including the group British Muslims for Secular Democracy, who were against it, there is no connection between the new BBC story and the Express story, so why create a non-existant connection?

22. MuslimCouncil

RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

23. Matt Munro

@ 7 – So what ? Are you saying that all websites only publish completely clear, non-ambiguous and up to the minute news ? No one complains when the BBC endlessly recycle ancient climate change “stories”. And since when was LC a blog about “debating the content and presentation of the BBC article”.

Sunny – your choice but I think everyone has noticed the quality of the posts on LC declining rapidly since the election

24. Matt Munro

“What’s wrong with Expose the BNP? (Genuine question, BTW, haven’t come across them before.)”

Er for a supposedly non-partisan liberal blog it’s both partisan and illiberal ? As in the BNP aren’t a banned, illegal or underground partys, so unless LC is suddenly pusuing a no platform policy/and or is becoming a branch of searchlight – what’s to “expose” ?

25. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs), VC, DSO and Bar, Buffet, Dancing 'til Late

It’s harder than it looks to appear as thick as Matt Munro manages while still being intelligent enough to use a computer.

26. Matt Munro

@ 25 – Have they let you out again ?

27. Chaise Guevara

“Er for a supposedly non-partisan liberal blog it’s both partisan and illiberal ? As in the BNP aren’t a banned, illegal or underground partys, so unless LC is suddenly pusuing a no platform policy/and or is becoming a branch of searchlight – what’s to “expose” ?”

Hang about. What specifically about Expose the BNP suggests that it treats the party as if it were “banned, illegal or underground”, or implies that a no-platform policy is being advocated? I have to admit that I first I was concerned that it was designed to ‘out’ BNP members, but didn’t see anything in that regard when I took a look at the site (the front page story is about a particular BNP supporter, but it all seems to be based on actions and statements he made in the public sphere).

As to “what’s to expose”; the BNP have an ongoing history of dragging their real policies underground; for example, I once read a piece on their site explaining that they didn’t hate mixed-race children, they just “felt sorry for them” (they apparently thought this would keep them safe from accusations of racism). Looking for it later, I’ve been unable to find it, suggesting that they may have withdrawn it following criticism.

If this means that they’re genuinely changing their policies, all well and good. If, however, it means they’re just hiding them, then an expose is necessary to stop voters being conned.

There is a genuine issue related to swimming, particularly for Muslim girls, and not just at Ramadan.

Many are discouraged or prevented from participating in swimming and other school sports that require showering or the changing of clothes. This is because public exposure of the body, even among same sex groups, is prohibited in Islam on grounds of immodesty.

29. Just Visiting

Pagar

That’s a new one on me – and you seem correct

Just reading these (presumably muslim women) arguing why it is wrong to go to the beach and etc.

(This time of the year – the beach is a fantastic family activity….)

http://muslimmatters.org/2007/03/29/soccers-hijab-maybe-but-saunas-and-hijab/

Of course (going off topic), I have raised on LC before the problem for school kids missing out: quoting Muslim primary school websites that say:
* drawing of people and animals is not allowed
* likewise music
* “Children are taught about the etiquette of segregation and how to interact with children of a different gender”.

30. Just Visiting

Did someone above talk about ‘covering up’ the pool – it’s already been done in Gloucester, to encourage Muslim girls to go swimming.

In February in a long piece in the Independent about the benefits heatth + otherwise of swimming (3rd biggest cause of death among under 16s is drowning)

they wrote:
“Positive Futures…, reports that swimming has also helped to engage girls from Muslim communities in physical activity. “In the past, the project struggled to engage with Muslim girls or find activities that attracted their interest. Single-sex swimming was introduced in the Gloucester area in a way that honoured their cultural traditions, including blinds at the window, same-sex lifeguards and without public spectators or CCTV,” says Tom Sackville, the director of delivery and development.

31. Just Visiting

This is funny, a telegraph writer, on spas and saunas, think that the Brits have a body conciousness problem that Muslims don’t have:

“Sure enough, the five of us sat there in our substantial M&S swimming costumes. And he sat there buck naked. Didn’t bat an eyelid. He’s probably still dining out on it in Sweden.
“The Swedes are so cool. And it’s not just the Swedes. Everybody but us – bar Americans and possibly Australians – is relaxed about his or her body. Catholic countries such as France, Italy and Austria all have long spa traditions. Muslim women go naked in the hammam (though Islam requires men to cover their genitals). We’re the weirdos, here in Britain: an island of buttock-clenching repressives marooned amid international oceans of cool.

32. Just Visiting

More silliness….

The NHS’s own advice – it’s OK to swim during Ramadan…. ( these government bodsdo seem to like to interpret religions for people…)

“Can I swim during fasting?

“Yes, but do not drink the water. A bath or shower or swimming has no effect on the fast. But no water should be swallowed during any of these activities as that would break the fast.

From “Ramadan health FAQs”

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyramadan/Pages/FAQs.aspx

33. Just Visiting

On the other hand…Kirkless Local Authority says you can’t swim during Ramadam:

“It is recommended that swimming be avoided during the month Ramadan.”

http://www.kirklees-ednet.org.uk

34. Just Visiting

Hounslow LEA say you CAN…

Hounslow LEA and Hounslow Central Mosque issued a document:

http://www.ramadan.co.uk/RamadanGuidelinesSchools2005.pdf

“Swimming
“Muslim girls can easily wear caps and long swimming leggings during Primary school swimming lessons. If water is inadvertently swallowed this does not mean the fast is broken, as the intention was not to drink.

35. Just Visiting

Hummm, looks like the role of the MCB is more nuanced.

Surrey County Council say you CAN swim.

They say: their document ‘was revised by Muslim Council of Britain” – having been “based on work by Hounslow LEA and Hounslow Mosque in 2001”

36. Just Visiting

This is because public exposure of the body, even among same sex groups, is prohibited in Islam on grounds of immodesty.

No, it’s prohibited amongst some of the very nuttiest fringe interpretations of Islam, and in the minds of loony bigots. Hence, *the fucking hamams, everywhere in the fucking Islamic world*.

Jesus, if you’re going to spread mad lies about Islam, at least try and not make them transparently and obviously false to anyone who’s ever actually visited a Muslim country…

No, it’s prohibited amongst some of the very nuttiest fringe interpretations of Islam

No John.

That is the meme often followed here- Islam is mainly cuddly apart from a few extreme fundamentalists. But there are real tensions between following Islam and adapting to a Western liberal democracy and it is unhelpful to pretend they don’t exist.

My comments above are based on the advice from the Muslim Council of Great Britain to schools- not part of a “nutty fringe” you would agree?.

Here is what they say

In the vast majority of primary schools, when changing for PE, both boys and girls
have no choice but to change in mixed group environments for sports activities.
Muslim children are likely to exhibit resistance to this sort of compromising and
immodest exposure, but are often pressurised to conform to institutional norms which
do not take account of their own or their parents’ beliefs and values.

In secondary schools, changing facilities are always gender specific but almost always
communal. Communal changing compromises the Islamic modesty requirements and
having to change down to their undergarments in the presence of their peers and
teachers can be a source of embarrassment or even be undignifying for many pupils.

In secondary schools, changing facilities are always gender specific but almost always
communal. Communal changing compromises the Islamic modesty requirements and
having to change down to their undergarments in the presence of their peers and
teachers can be a source of embarrassment or even be undignifying for many pupils.

Many schools, both primary and secondary, hold mixed swimming lessons but the
changing arrangements, although single gender, are often communal. Some schools
have taken the initiative of offering single-sex swimming lessons and ensure that their
pupils change in individual cubicles. However, they do not always ensure that the
accompanying teacher and pool attendants are of the same gender as the children.
Adjoining changing and showering areas of the pool are sometimes used by members
of the public at the same time as the children. This raises serious concern in that some
members of the public may sometimes become totally naked in the presence of these
children.

And the result.

The Swimming Advisory Group’s report highlighted the fact that many children from
ethnic communities were failing to reach the minimum Key Stage 2 target.
This is particularly true for children of Islamic faith background whose parents may
object on grounds of modesty and decency, Muslim girls in particular may exhibit
reluctance to swimming in mixed classes with boys.

39. Just Visiting

John B

Looks like you owe Pagar an apology.

And your earlier comment 18 also suggests you hadn’t researched before posting:

>The kids-swimming advice, which is the same news now that it was three years ago, is clearly separate from the made-up swimming-pool-window-removing advice, which is last week’s stupidity.

As my post at 30 shows – one swimming pool at least HAS covered up it’s windows during swimming sessions aimed at including Muslim children.

So not exactly made up.

40. Just Visiting

John B

> … the same news now that it was three years ago…

But it seems that the MCB’s own guidance on Ramadam swimming has changed since 2004…. (see above in the thread)

So it is ‘NEW news’ – albeit that the MSM didn’t spot!

But what is striking to those of us of a non-Islamic tradition – is just how literal and legalistic the thinking seems to be in this area (and others)

Many religions include fasting in their rituals.
But as far as I know none fear that accidental swallowing of water while swimming breaks the fast!

It is almost as if there is no ability to recognise the _principal_ behind fasting (self imposed inner discipline). The focus instead is on the _externals_: (does anything go in your mouth, even by accident – will other people judge me if they see me doing X).

It is the same legalistic principle that causes the periodic Fatwa’s that get issued by serious Islamic figures, that say a man and a women may work in the same office, as long as she has breast fed him!

That is a legalistic way to get round the rule that women may not be alone with men whom they are not related to: and that (if I recall right) Mohammed himself suggested it.

If I recall – it was the case of a child (adopted?) brought up by a family but not from babyhood. Once he become grown up enough not to be a child anymore: the parents asked Mohammed, is the boy allowed to be at home with the women: Mohammed said to breastfeed him, and then it would be OK!

To read more : google for:
“islamic fatwa breast-feeding”

41. Just Visiting

Eg just last month in Saudi: Sheikh Al Obeikan, (adviser to the royal court and consultant to the Ministry of Justice) advocated breastfeeding of male office colleagues:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2010/06/09/2010-06-09_saudi_clerics_issue_fatwa_okaying_adult_breastfeeding_as_way_of_circumventing_is.html

42. Chaise Guevara

“It is almost as if there is no ability to recognise the _principal_ behind fasting (self imposed inner discipline). The focus instead is on the _externals_: (does anything go in your mouth, even by accident – will other people judge me if they see me doing X).”

It is weird how this sort of thing happens. You could argue that the whole Halal and Kosher traditions are now an example of such thinking: never mind that the rationale for the rules no longer applies, they’re written down so we must obey them. This is what you get when you try to base your moral stance on a single out-of-date source, of course.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  2. thabet

    RT @libcon: @bbcnews mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  3. Welsh Ramblings

    RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  4. Jay Baker

    Remember the "Muslims Force Schools Cover-up" headline last week? @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  5. NewLeftProject

    RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  6. Sam the Drummer

    Isn't it about time we were able to live without demonisation? RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  7. earwicga

    RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  8. Oxford Kevin

    RT @libcon BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story http://bit.ly/aoPBWZ . Exactly the reason I gave up on the BBC years ago.

  9. Bryan

    RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  10. Tom Major

    RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  11. sunny hundal

    Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  12. A Cloaked Figure

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  13. Moonbootica

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  14. Sadaf Qureshi

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  15. fljf

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  16. Alasdair Thompson

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  17. ana

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  18. Marwa Galal Hassan

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  19. Josh R

    @kianryan http://bit.ly/ckUXsL http://bit.ly/bEg9ov

  20. Steve Akehurst

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  21. Joe McCrohon

    RT @libcon: BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo

  22. Islamic Soc Britain

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  23. Khalid Anis

    RT @BritIslam: RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  24. MCB

    RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming story)

  25. Matthew Doye

    BBC mis-represents Muslim swimming story | Liberal Conspiracy: http://bit.ly/9Bx83j via @addthis

  26. MuslimVote

    Has the BBC given succour to the far-right? http://fb.me/CHKXuGii

  27. Asif B

    RT @MuslimCouncil: RT @sunny_hundal: Another example of BBC journalism following tabloid agendas: http://bit.ly/9N1pGo (Muslims swimming …

  28. Gordon Wright

    @DarkLochnagar http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/07/12/bbc-mis-represents-muslim-swimming-story/





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