Manal Omar, the ‘burkini’, the rude busybody and the local media

Manal Omar on her five piece Islamic swimsuit - The Guardian

I don’t know why I’m surprised that a woman has run into problems wearing an all-over swimsuit; Manal Omar’s run-in with some staff in a private health club in Oxford, where she is (or at least was) a paying customer ended up in the local press and her experience became the focus of a discussion on immigration and asylum (as if it’s relevant given that she is not, and never was, an asylum seeker). However, the attitude of this busybody is pretty appalling (more: [1], [2], [3]):

As I was getting ready to head home from my Sunday swim, I heard a loud voice from a man stating that he needed to speak to the manager about dress code. I picked up on it, but didn’t really give it too much thought, until I heard him yelling about “that woman over there” who was wearing the “burkini”, the gist of what he was saying seemingly being that it was inappropriate. What the hell is that? The burkini? I could feel a rising indignation at the man’s audacity in singling me out in this way. Who had died and declared him the pool police? There were several lifeguards on duty who had seen me swimming there over the previous six months, and none had objected to the swimsuit. It’s been nearly a year since I moved to Oxford, and frankly, I had had enough of the anti-Muslim rhetoric in British political life. Now that I was in the middle of it, I refused to stand on the sidelines.

I walked up to the burly, middle-aged man who had been pointing at me a minute before and asked, “Are you guys talking about me?”

He turned towards me, and waved a dismissive hand: “This has nothing to do with you.”

“Are you talking about me? Because if you are, this has everything to do with me.”

He then confirmed he was indeed talking about me, but not talking to me. He was talking to the manager.

By this time I was irate, and the fact that he was using his dirty shoes as a pointer while he was yelling at me didn’t help the situation. “But you have just singled me out in front of everyone, and in a voice loud enough for me to hear. How can this have nothing to do with me?”

At this point he referred to me as a “silly little girl”, which I found amusing, considering that I am a 32-year-old, 5ft 10in, professional senior manager for an international NGO. This man was clearly a closed-minded bigot and a sexist to boot, and there wasn’t much I could do to change that.

Talking about her, not to her, eh? When adults spoke to me like that as a child I resented it; the health club workers should have told this man to mind his own business.

And what a surprise that the self-made “community leader” Taj Hargey crops up to defend anyone who is against a Muslim! I wonder if Manal Omar knows that this guy has made quite a name for himself as the anti-Muslim “Muslim”, since coming out of nowhere to attack Muslims on the John Ware show? (Update: having read the Oxford Mail article in question, it seems that Hargey assumed that she went into the pool “full dressed” rather than wearing the so-called burqini, which is what he suggested. However, the fact remains that he has no standing in the community, is not part of it and sells himself to the media as someone willing to attack the community “from within”.)

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