“These rooms provide travelers an opportunity to pray in their own way and have peace before they take on a long flight,” Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, told My News 13.
Many Muslims currently pray in public, and even the bathrooms, at the Orlando airport. Carolyn Fennell, director of public affairs at the airport, says the “Reflective Room” will give them a much more suitable place to pray.
“So they aren’t having to, if it is the case, kneel on bathroom floors or in corners so they have the reflective time,” she told My News 13.
The airport has a chapel in Terminal A and is expected to open an interdenominational chapel in the near future, My News 13 reports.
The “Reflection Room” is scheduled to be open by Sept. 1.
More: ‘Muslim’ Prayer Room At Orlando Airport Welcomes All Faiths, Sparks Backlash Anyway
While the space will welcome worshippers of all faiths, it was partly designed keeping in mind the practices of Muslim travelers, who adhere to a prescribed ritual prayer that involves standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting on the floor. The room will include benches but also a carpeted area where travelers can sit.
“So they aren’t having to, if it is the case, kneel on bathroom floors or in corners, so they have the reflective time,” said Carolyn Fennell, the airport’s director of public affairs. “There are amenties there for those who practice Middle East rituals.”
The prayer area also will include an ablution facility, carry-on luggage bins and racks for holding worshippers’ shoes, Fennell said. Signs marking north, east, south and west will indicate the qibla, the directions Muslims face when they offer prayers.
But, adds Fennell, there will be no religious symbols in the reflection room, and it will serve as a space for all passengers.
Huh? An ablution facility and qibla indicators pointing to Mecca are not religious symbols? They are for Muslims and only Muslims.
But not everyone is thrilled with the idea of a worship room that caters to Muslims, even though airport authorities have emphasized that the room is open to all. There has been backlash on social media in certain conservative circles, despite assurances that there is already a chapel at the airport and that the new reflection room is not limited to Muslims.
“Orlando is pathetic. Caving to Muslims and Sharia law. I’ll find another airport to fly into,” read one comment left on the airport’s Facebook page in response to a statement about the new reflection room. Another user wrote, “Adding insult to stupidity is the fact the taxpayers are footing the bill.”
According to airport officials, the Orlando International Airport is funded 30 percent by the airlines and 70 percent by user fees generated by restaurants, hotels and commercial leases at the facility.
“We do use passenger facility charges that are built into ticket fees, as virtually all airports do. But there are no tax dollars provided at all for the operation of the airport,” Fennell said.
As for the backlash, Fennell said the airport has “had some calls and some comments. But there isn’t any movement toward disrespecting any religions at all — we are respectful of all faiths.”
She added that this reflection room is no different from the airport’s tradition of serving all passengers with its nondenominational chapel, or the nondenominational prayer room outside the security area that will open in 2016.
If that is true, then why couldn’t Muslims simply use the nondenominational chapel? If they needed additional space why not another nondenominational chapel? This is clearly for Muslims.
Feeding the hand that keeps biting you. . .
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