Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Blame the Muslims

There is something about this story - Gym club banned from holding classes at girls school after Muslim parents complain about boy members - that sounds very fishy. The story popped up in all the usual suspects - The Sun had it as Kids gym axed in Muslim fury and the Express said School gym forced to shut by Muslims.

The Shirley Gymnastics Club has been asked to move from the all girls Old Palace School in Croydon.

The Club Chairman Colin Parry touted it around all the papers that it was the fault of them Muslims. 'There is a group of Muslim parents with Muslim children at the school and they are the ones putting pressure on the headteacher', he says, because there are boys in the gym club and the parents didn't want them mixing with their girls.

A Tory Councillor, Dudley Mead, was called on for an informed quote. Unfortunately, all he could offer instead was: 'That's the Muslim belief isn't it? They are very protective of their female children.'

So what do the school say? Not too much, but in a statement said:

We were unable to accommodate the early starting time of the club as the school was still functioning. We had hoped that the club could be held at a later time but this was thought unworkable by the organisers. It has not been a decision taken lightly but we have to consider the needs of the school and the security of the site given the very young age of our juniors.

Yes. So nothing to do with 'Muslim fury' then? Well, maybe she wouldn't say that explicitly even if it were true.

But buried in the story is this:

In a bid to find a compromise, the school suggested the gym club start at 6.30pm, rather than 5pm, by which time school pupils would have left the site. But Mr Perry said this was unworkable as it would mean some sessions not ending until 9.30pm, too late for many of the club's members, some as young as five.

So the Club has not been 'kicked out', as The Sun says. Much less 'forced to close' as the Express claims. It has been asked to move to a later time, which it doesn't want to do. Mr Perry says they can't start later as a 9.30 finish would be too late for the five year old members. Which may beg the question - why the hell are five year olds doing 3 hour exercise sessions?

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