Popular resort removes 'overlooked' hijab restriction after 25 years

A sign at Avalon Springs in Montagu, previously situated near one of the resort's several natural hot springs, restricting Hijab wearing Muslims to one pool.
 (Supplied)
A sign at Avalon Springs in Montagu, previously situated near one of the resort's several natural hot springs, restricting Hijab wearing Muslims to one pool. (Supplied)

Cape Town – A popular Montagu resort, roughly three hours from Cape Town, has removed a sign restricting swimming pool access for Hijab wearing Muslims dating back an estimated 25 years. 

This follows a complaint from a Muslim client, who says the sign's removal is all a little too late. 

The sign, previously situated near one of Avalon Springs' several natural spring pools, gave an overview of the rules applicable to day visitors. 

One of the rules read that Muslim guests are permitted to "wear their attire, but this is restricted to the 'Crocodile Pool' only".

In written answers to News24 on Friday, Avalon Springs' General manager Gavin Hatherley said the sign dates back 25 years and it is unclear how the sign has been "overlooked all this time". 

“This is indeed an unfortunate and embarrassing situation for us, and we thank you for helping us to address it."

He said the resort has reviewed all signage on the property, following the complaint, to ensure "none of them causes offence, or has the potential to cause offence". 

Muslim cliental have however rejected the "excuse", questioning how the large sign could be overlooked for so many years. 

"I am certain there were other people who also complained, but now that the media is involved and that it can affect their pocket, they do something," Gava Kassiem told News24 in Afrikaans. 

"It's laughable, any sane person can see it's laughable."

Kassiem, who visited the resort in July, also questioned whether the sign was put up 25 years ago.

"I've had many family gatherings there, for over 20 years my family has been visiting the resort, and there was never a sign prohibiting me from wearing my hijab."

She said that while she is hurt by the discrimination against Muslims, she finds it as nothing new.  

"One should think that 20 years after apartheid this thing would be something of the past. But yes, I am used to it. In apartheid, I was told I can't sit here and I can't go there. It still feels the same today."


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