From Stephen Pollard September 1, 2008 in The Times of London:
Head of Democratic Services at Tower Hamlets Council in East London, John [any relationship to Anglican Archbishop Rowan?] Williams last week e-mailed each of the borough’s 51 councillors with these instructions, according to Pollard:
For the duration of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, they are, he [Williams] 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. Strict Muslims do not eat or drink between sunrise or sunset during Ramadan. Because sunset will fall during the meetings, there will be 45-minute adjournments so that councillors can break their fast and pray. And to make things easier, there will only be seven council meetings during the month.
Pollard concludes with these apt observations:
This is, let me remind you, happening not on Karachi borough council but in Tower Hamlets in London. As far as I am aware, the United Kingdom has not yet been absorbed into the Caliphate. The last time I checked, we allow citizens to practise all religions and none. If I wish to stuff my face with chocolate during the fasting hours of Ramadan, I will. And if you wish to go out for a slap-up lunch on Yom Kippur, you can feel free.
Yet Mr Williams—he’s the man with the “democratic services” label, a title so Orwellian that his existence simply had to involve promoting the opposite of democracy and service—appears to have concluded that Islamic practices must take precedence over any other practices. Instead of individual councillors being allowed to decide for themselves how they wish to behave during Ramadan, he is deciding for them.
It should come as no surprise that it is not the borough’s Muslim councillors who are demanding that their non-Muslim colleagues obey Islam. As almost always, it is a caricature liberal-left non-Muslim idiot who thinks he is being racially aware who does the real harm to race relations. Respect for religious practice can only be given voluntarily. Mr Williams’s prescription leads only to anger.