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Last updated at 10:53 PM on 28th August 2008
Councillors have been ordered not to eat during town hall meetings while Muslim colleagues fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
All elected members at Left-wing Tower Hamlets Council in East London have been sent an email asking them to follow strict Islamic fasting during September no matter what their faith.
As well as restricting food and drink until after sunset, the authority’s leaders have decided to reduce the number of meetings throughout the month so they do not clash with the requirements of Ramadan.
Ramadan row: Tower Hamlets Council leader Lutfur Rahman and Liberal Democrat leader Stephanie Eaton
The seven remaining meetings scheduled to take place will also include special prayer breaks to accommodate Muslim councillors.
But some members of the Labour-run council say the demands favour one religious group over the others.
Dr Stephanie Eaton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said she would ignore the restrictions.
She said: ‘The Liberal Democrats have enormous respect for the contribution of all faith groups and cultures to the life of the community of Tower Hamlets.
‘But we fervently believe that the rules of any one religion should not be imposed upon others.
‘I was rather disconcerted to see that the arrangements put in place for Ramadan, which we support for Muslim colleagues, have been imposed upon all councillors.
Holy row: A view of Tower Hamlets in east London
‘We object to the request that non-Muslim councillors observe the fasting rules for Ramadan. This sends out the wrong message to our community.
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