The Detroit News reported today about a Muslim woman who complained after her prayers were interrupted at the gym.
Fitness USA, a gym chain, is investigating an alleged civil rights violation involving a local Muslim woman who says her afternoon prayer was interrupted by a fellow patron, and that her complaint to management about the situation was rejected.
"The manager told me, 'You have to respect her (the patron), but she does not have to respect your God,' " said Wardeh Sultan of Dearborn. "I've had my membership for seven or eight years, and I've never had a problem with praying there."
Let me ask a very simple question: What was she doing praying at a gym?
A gym is where you go to exercise and sweat and shower, and then you go home. Prayer doesn't fit in at a gym. Prayer is what you do at home.
I understand that Muslims have specific times of the day for prayer. But they know what those times are before they go somewhere. Why can't she go to the gym before prayer. Or wait to go to the gym until after prayer? It's not like the prayer time came upon her like some emergency.
Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which lodged a formal complaint with Fitness USA on behalf of Sultan, said the recent spate of conflicts results from a growing intolerance of Islam and a growing restiveness among Muslims that their rights to speak freely and worship are increasingly at risk.
"They (Muslims) are resenting that they are to be suppressed from expressing themselves freely, like others," Hamad said.
"It's OK for a Christian fellow or a Jewish fellow to pray, and it would be regarded highly and respected. When it comes to a person of Muslim faith, especially if a woman is wearing the head cover or a man with a typical clergy outfit, yeah, it is becoming like something that is offensive to people and making them nervous."
Nobody's trying to stop Muslims from expressing themselves. And for a Christian fellow or a Jewish fellow to start praying in a gym, that would not be "regarded highly and respected." That would be looked upon like they'd lost their senses--at least the sense of propriety.
I'm not quite sure which ethnic or cultural group is currently the High Achievement prize-winner in the Professionally Offended Category, but Muslims like Ms. Sultan and the Flying Imams are starting to give them a run for their money.