The long and the short of it is that the parking wardens of Swindon have hitherto ignored parking violations by the worshippers at a local mosque during Friday prayers. However, they have recently become to actually enforce the rules, which has driven the mosque-goers into a “fury” (in the words of the article).
Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Central): “At one stage traffic wardens took a softly softly approach.
“But we are now saying everyone should be treated the same. There should be no privileges.”
To which the mosque-goers retort,
Mansoor Khan, secretary of the Thamesdown Islamic Association, said: “The parking situation is atrocious.
“We are getting sick and tired of it. People don’t have time to go to a car park and walk, as they are on their lunch break from work.”
Muhammad Ali, a representative of the Marat Shahjalal mosque in Manchester Road, said spaces are empty during Islamic prayer time, as residents are at work anyway.
“A lot of prayer goers are getting tickets every week,” he said.
“It is causing unnecessary arguments. I don’t think it is too much to ask for us to be allowed to park in empty resident parking spaces for one hour.
“People should be facilitated for religious purposes.”
This fundamentally comes down to fairness. When there are rules applied for the public good (like parking regulations) it is objectionable if a minority demand a special exemption.
It is doubly objectionable if that exemption is demanded because of a religious belief (you must not discriminate against me, but you must, at the same time discriminate in favour of me).
There are many groups who would like to be able to park (just for an hour, just on Tuesdays, there’s no-one else there), and then you’re back in the same situation you were in before the regulations were introduced. Nuddy2, a commenter on the article says:
I remember only too well the parking situation before res. park was brought in, when every Tom Dick and Harry used to park here to go shopping or football and so did many of the employees at Garrards, it was a joke trying to find a parking space if you were a resident.
Let there be one law for everybody, and let us be wary of special interest groups (especially faith-based special interest groups) demanding special privileges.