Controversial 'hamam' opens in Pike Twp.
A Pike Township business opened last week after a protracted battle with the city of Indianapolis, but area residents aren't happy about it.
Co-owner Julia Fonte describes Manana's Moroccan Hamam as, "a discreet facility for complete body cleansing and exfoliation in a unique, private setting," similar to an American spa treatment. Hamams are frequented, albeit separately, by both men and women in Islamic countries such as Morocco and Turkey.
After months and an estimated 150 phone calls, including to the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, Fonte said she was told the city wouldn't stand in the way of their opening.
Some Pike residents think the city caved in to political pressure and a fear of getting sued.
Pike Fire Marshal Steve Jones inspected the hamam last month and decided to discuss what he saw with other citizens.
"I'm saying this not as the fire marshal, but as Steve Jones, Pike Township resident," he said.
"It's the city's job to insure ordinances are being followed, but they've allowed her (Fonte) to redefine what it is that she does, and that sounds like a political cave. It fit the description of a bathhouse and that's why the city put it there. I don't think the city made a mistake classifying it like that, but it's easier (for the city) to let it go and hope nothing happens."
if you read that article, perhaps even a couple times, and still haven't the foggiest what is supposed to be controversial about this place, you're not alone. the story doesn't even attempt to explain.
this place is in my neighborhood, so it'd be nice to know why it's so controversial. i can't tell if it's because it's a bathhouse and therefore they're scared gay men will go there, or if the problem is that's is a turkish bath and therefore they're afraid a bunch of dirty turks and muslims will frequent the place. or is it both? i have no idea... anyone? ¶