Shisha PipeFinally, I have a reason to use this blog (as opposed to my personal one for friends only) for something useful, although I will be adding more geek-blogs on open source shortly, as I have been following that with great interest (especially Alfresco).

Following up on my blog a few months ago (I’ve pasted it below from my other blog), I have some VERY sad news. Unfortunately, the UK smoking ban in public places (which I am completely for in regards to normal clubs and bars) includes shisha.

What can I say? I’m not muslim, none of the Greeks, Russians, Spanish, Brazilians and English friends I know are muslim, but we all like to go for shisha during the week/weekends. Yet the British government claims there shouldn’t be special exceptions for minorities such as muslims for the smoking ban. What about the exceptions they do for the other religions in the UK like allowing Sikhs to carry knives? Surely that’s more of a health hazard than Shisha to the public?! I’m not going to turn this into a religious/minority argument like the government has, but I will say again what I stated in my last artical about this:

Shisha bars are unique – people only go to them to smoke Shisha! They have made a conscious decision to expose themselves to smoke, so let us be!

The government wants to get rid of the binge drinking culture, but what options does someone like me have to go and meet up with friends in the evening? Starbucks? Or shall I go for drink at the bar down the road from now on like all the other English?! Shisha was something me and my friends could do regularly in London to meet up, hang out in a cool place, meet loads of new people (everyone sits close together in Shisha bars so you always end up meeting other people from other countries!) that didn’t involve alcohol, or just sitting in a chain-coffee shop.

Anyway, there is an online petition for the Government, please take 2 minutes to sign up if you’re a British resident (you don’t have to be British just a resident living here!) to stop this idiocracy: The deadline is 29th June, and it only has 4000 signatures so far!

Original Blog – 14/02/2006:

I heard some very positive and also disappointing news today.

Today, parliament voted by an almost 200 vote majority, for a total ban on smoking in England in all public places. Now as a non-smoker, I have no problem with this. I hate going into some clubs and coming out stinking of smoke, or having my lungs and eyes screwed up because the club doesn’t have a decent air conditioning system. So overall, I’m in favour.

But I got to thinking about whether this would include shisha. A lot of people on this site have been for shisha in this country, in fact for a few of us its a social tradition that is a good excuse to get together and try something a bit more original than the local pub.

One search on google, bought up an artical from the First Post where it stated that shisha was a predominately muslim activity, and that the home office would not “single out the Muslim community for special treatment,”.

Now, only a couple of people on this site are muslim, but a lot of us enjoy shisha. This is not just a muslim tradition, but a social tradition that non-muslims, non-arabs (especially Greeks) and a number of Russian girls I know, enjoy!

The fact is, this is not special treatment for muslims, its not even special treatment! Unlike a club, pub or restaurant where people primarily go for a drink, food or a party, the only people who go to shisha bars and cafes are the ones who want to go for shisha, and have made a consious choice to sit there and inhale smoke. So many people who are non-smokers like myself, accept it, because its something you can do with friends in a group, but mainly because its something different! Now my choice is to go to a pub/club/restaurant that all offer pretty much the same deal, drink/food and the same western atmosphere you can find in a thousand places.

This is something that adds some spice and diversity to Englands night life. We seem more in favour of extending everyone’s right to binge drink 24 hours, than about protecting something that involves no more than chilling out with some friends and enjoying the atmosphere of something you can’t find anywhere else in the UK.

This ruling will close down businesses throughout the UK. Not just muslim/arab ones either. Anyone who’s been to Cafe Cairo in Clapham will know that hardly anyone there is Arab, but just a bunch of Londoner’s who want to do something different from the usual English night life.