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MP segregated from wife at Muslim wedding walks out

PUBLISHED: 16:57 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:42 05 October 2010

Jim and Sheila (centre) at a reception in Bangladesh last summer, taken for the Advertiser website

Jim and Sheila (centre) at a reception in Bangladesh last summer, taken for the Advertiser website

GOVERNMENT Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has spoken out after he and his wife were refused entry as a couple to attend a wedding at the London Muslim Centre. He is accusing the centre of imposing stricter’ segregation rules than before, after they were directed to separate rooms for men and women

EXCLUSIVE by Gemma Collins

GOVERNMENT Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has spoken out after he and his wife were refused entry as a couple to attend a wedding at the London Muslim Centre.

He is accusing the centre of imposing stricter’ segregation rules than before, after he and his GP wife Sheila were directed to separate rooms for men and women.

Mr Fitzpatrick, the local MP for Poplar & Canning Town in London’s East End, had been invited to attend a constituent’s wedding on Sunday, unaware that men and women would be segregated.

He blamed the Islamic Forum of Europe which is based in the same building.

STRANGLEHOLD’

“The stranglehold influence of the Islamic Forum is present more than ever before,” Mr Fitzpatrick told the East London Advertiser on Monday.

“We are trying to build social cohesion in a community—but this is not the way forward.”

The Forum adheres to Shariah law while describing itself as “helping to develop the Muslim community and benefit the wider society.”

The London Muslim Centre, which is next to the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, insists it has always had separate men and women at weddings.

But Mr Fitzpatrick, Minister for Food and Farming, has been to a string of weddings and events at the centre and says he has seen a change in rules in recent months which most of East London’s Muslim community do not want.

SEGREGATION

“The segregation of men and women didn’t used to be as much of a strong feature,” he added.

“We’ve been attending Muslim weddings together for years—but only recently has this strict line been taken. It is a disappointment.”

The centre’s website states that “free mixing” is not permitted in weddings.

Their spokesman Mohammed Shakir said: “At the end of the day we hire out the facilities—but it is down to the bride and groom what they do.”

The Islamic Forum insists the centre has its own proceedings and regulations and gets advice from the imam. Their spokesman said: “Those who get married at the centre are religious people and you will find any Muslim centre you go to has segregation.”

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