Backlash after MP left wedding over segregated rooms for men and women
A GOVERNMENT minister who walked out of a Muslim wedding after being told he would have to sit in a separate room from his wife is facing calls to resign.
Jim Fitzpatrick, food, farming and environment minister, left the wedding at the London Muslim Centre after being told he would not be able to sit with his wife because the reception was segregated.
He accused the Islamic Forum of Europe, which has links to the venue, of having a “stranglehold” over the centre.
But his comments were met with condemnation with some calling for his resignation.
Speaking about the incident, Mr Fitzpatrick said: ‘The segregation of men and women didn’t used to be as much of a strong feature. But it is an indication of the stricter application of rules that is taking place that didn’t exist before. It is a disappointment. I think the stranglehold influence of the IFE is present more than ever before. We are trying to build social cohesion in a community but this is not the way forward.”
Mr Fitzpatrick and his wife, Sheila, had been invited to the wedding of constituents Bodrul Islam and his wife Mahbuba Kamali.
Mr Islam insisted the couple had chosen to have their reception segregated and were not influenced by any other group.
He added a family member had spoken to Mr Fitzpatrick shortly after he left the venue with his wife asking them to come back, but the MP declined and insisted he was not offended.
“I was made aware of Mr Fitzpatrick leaving at the end of the wedding,” Mr Islam said. “I was told that a member of my family also called Mr Fitzpatrick and his wife to call him back to the wedding and accommodate them. He had reassured my family that he had not been offended and he declined to come back.
“My wife and I chose the London Muslim Centre as a wedding venue as it catered for our families religious and cultural requirements.”
He added his family were “upset and disappointed” that the MP had taken his grievances to the press and not contacted the family.
George Galloway called on Mr Fitzpatrick to resign from his post as government minister.
He accused the MP of using the incident to “pursue a political vendetta” against the Islamic Forum of Europe and to “pander to those who have prejudices against Muslims and Muslim traditions.”
Mr Galloway added: “This is unacceptable behaviour by a government minister and MP. More than that, this behaviour has discredited him as a representative of this government. If he does not do the decent thing and resign, Brown should sack him.”