Taking a break from reminding Americans of the ensuing War On Christmas that begins around this time every year, Fox News’ hit morning show Fox And Friends hit on another one of the network’s favorite topics this morning: the slow and steady creep of Sharia Law across the nation.
This time, Sharia is rearing its head at America’s swimming pools, where America’s Muslim “minority is becoming the majority,” according to Fox’s Heather Nauert. The evidence is that one swimming pool in St. Paul, Minnesota is offering a swimming class to Somali-born girls who now live in the area, and to accommodate the participants’ Muslim beliefs, the pool is closed to men during the one-hour class. “Sharia law is changing everything,” Nauert proclaimed during the brief segment, which you can see here via Raw Story:
The classes are now “starting across the Midwest,” Nauert said before promising that Fox News would “keep watching this story for you.”
Nauert doesn’t exactly explain why this is a problem, other than making it seem that we should all be outraged about a pool making special accommodations to a religious minority for an entire hour. The program, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported, because women and girls in the community’s relatively large Somali population were struggling to access the pool, having to go at early hours to have the privacy their religion requires. It was started with help from St. Paul police, who first noticed a need for it, and instructors have already noticed a difference in the girls who participate.
Access to sports and other leisure activities is largely limited for Muslim women around the world. Many Arabic countries ban women from playing sports or attending sporting events. Other Muslim women miss out on athletic participation because of the religion’s modesty requirements, as international sporting organizations have sparked controversies both by allowing women to compete wearing traditional head scarves and by banning them from doing so (FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, lifted its ban on hijabs last year). The International Olympic Committee has pushed Arabic countries to allow women to compete in the Olympics, and in 2012, Saudi Arabia sent women as part of its official delegation for the first time.
The United States has its own concerns, not just for Muslim women but for Muslims in general. The New York Police Department reportedly monitored cricket and soccer leagues with large Muslim populations as part of a broader surveillance program, raising questions about whether activities that should help bring communities together would instead turn into another area of suspicion for Muslims in the city. And Muslim women face many of the same access problems here that they do elsewhere in the world.
The restrictions some schools of Islam place on women and girls is certainly worthy of critique. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make simple accommodations to Muslim women and girls to help introduce them to sports and recreational activities like swimming (which is also a matter of basic safety). And doing so, of course, doesn’t mean Sharia Law will be creeping into a neighborhood near you. From a network that once questioned an American gold medalist’s patriotism because she wore pink at the Olympics, though, we probably should expect nothing less.