Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick:
A Government minister today told how he and his wife walked out of a Muslim wedding after being segregated into male and female areas.
Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, the minister for food and farming, said the strictly-enforced rule threatened community cohesion in the heavily Muslim area of Whitechapel, East London.
Mr Fitzpatrick, 57, said he and his GP wife Sheila have attended many mosque weddings before but have never witnessed such an arrangement.
And he fears the growing trend is due to the influence of the Islamic Forum of Europe, proponents of Shariah law, who have links to the wedding venue.
‘We’ve been attending Muslim weddings together for years but only recently has this strict line been taken, he 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.
‘We left so as not to cause offence.’
The MP for nearby Poplar and Canning Town, added: ‘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.’
The wedding between two members of his constituency took place on Sunday at the London Muslim Centre – part of the East London Mosque.
Mr Fitzpatrick said they had no idea they would be separated and when it became clear that his wife would be forced to sit in a different hall, they walked out.
It is a popular venue for community weddings but rules state all ceremonies must be held in accordance of Sahriah law, the Islamic code.
It states: ‘Wedding hire at the LMC is only available for Islamic weddings.
‘Hirers should ensure they require a wedding that complies with Islamic Shariah in which there is no free mixing between sexes and where proper Islamic dress code and etiquettes are observed.