Indianapolis airport officials have announced plans to add footbaths for Muslims who wish to wash before their five-times-daily prayer rituals, and that’s just too much for one pastor, who has called for residents to organize and protest.
The issue has been appearing in more and more airports and other public facilities in recent weeks, where Muslim immigrants are a growing segment of cab drivers, who spend hours waiting on arriving passengers for their fares.
Prayer rugs at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where officials boasted of having provided the customer service feature of footwashing benches for Muslims
Several years ago, officials with Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix boasted of a new “customer service,” providing footwashing facilities for Muslims.
“The cab drivers were asking for more washroom facilities as a group, and a majority of them wanted some place to wash before they pray,” Deborah Ostreicher, public information officer, told the Arizona Republic. “This is a way we thought we could reach out as a customer service.”
Similar facilities have been built at Kansas City International, although airport officials repeatedly have insisted the washing facilities are for anyone aided by the presence of seating and low faucets.
One editorial writer called it “creeping dhimmitude,” where America is joining the “global community of nations dominated by Islam,” and now Rev. Jerry Hillenburg, pastor at Hope Baptist Church in Indianapolis, says he’s going to be working to halt such changes at the city’s airport.
He’s announced a rally Saturday at 11 a.m. to oppose the tax-funded footwashing sinks for Muslims at the airport.
“How do you eat an elephant?” Hillenburg asked during an interview with WND. “One bite at a time. And this is just the first bite of the elephant, a step towards Islam’s desired goal, which is to thrust the entire world under one single Islamic caliphate under sharia law.”
He told the Indianapolis newspaper that such actions reflect a “fraternization” with enemies during a time of war, and he’s calling on Mayor Bart Peterson to halt the installation of the facilities.
His sermon in response to the situation was titled “Stop Caving in to Islam,” and Hillenberg said it’s unreasonable to use such public facilities for the support of a single religion.
Airport officials, faced with the sudden publicity and demands from the public, admitted their plans to build facilities on airport property to accommodate the prayer needs of Muslims are not final. But they were planned as part of restrooms in a new airport terminal that is due for completion next year.
“We’re really a long way from having this set in stone,” said Airport Authority spokesman David Dawson.
He told the newspaper that comments from members of the public will have an effect on the final plans for the property, which is owned by the Airport Authority, a public entity.
Shariq A. Siddiqui, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, said the real issue is that American Muslims face intolerance every day.
“The problem I have with him is that he associates Muslims with the enemy,” Siddiqui said. “For him to demonize all of us is the problem.”
Hillenburg told the mayor that putting sinks on public property that would primarily serve Muslims could be unconstitutional. That move, Hillenburg said, simply is an “appeasement” of Muslims.
While the airport has an interfaith chapel, Hillenburg said he would be surprised if the authority would allow the installation of a baptistry or basins for holy water.
“I don’t hate Muslims. I don’t hate people who follow Islam,” he said. “But I am at odds with anyone who threatens America and its citizenry; and I am at odds with anyone, period, who wants to destroy Christianity.”
The ACLU has not opposed the installation of the religion-specific facilities in other locations. When the University of Michigan installed footbaths in campus restrooms, it concluded that the university’s reason was for “practical cleanliness and safety.”
“They won’t let us (Christians) have the Ten Commandments, Merry Christmas or children praying at a school convocation,” Hillenburg told WND. “We’ve had the Establishment Clause shoved down our throats for the last 40 years.”
“[This situation] boils down to the appeasement of Islam at the cost of oppression to Christianity,” he said. “We have lived with the Supreme Court’s separation of church and state for years. We’ve had Christmas trees banned, Nativity scenes taken down, in the state General Assembly in Indiana a federal judge ruled it is unconstitutional to have a Christian prayer.”
Russ Richards, who works in the transportation industry at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, said he’s documented similar facilities that have been on the airport property for several years already.
“In the airport’s cab lot (C-lot) they not only have footbaths but also a covered designated prayer area with ‘misters,’ benches, and prayer rugs,” he said. “If people other than Muslims go into the area, they are ‘swooped’ on by Islamic followers as to the intent of any non-Muslim.”
He told WND the facility essentially is a mosque on public property for the benefit of Muslims. “It’s their space. They mark it with their rugs.”
The earlier report in the Arizona Republic said it might be the first such facility in the nation.
Abdul Malik Omar, who owns Metro Transportation, a limousine company on Phoenix, said observers sometimes can see 30 or 40 people praying together in open space. He said even more accommodations should be added, including a permanent place to pray.
Robert Spencer, who founded Jidah Watch, compared installing a footbath for a Muslim to putting in a holy water font to accommodate Catholics.
“The only conceivable group that will use the footbath are Muslims for prayer,” he said. “It’s a religious installation for a religious use.”
Foot-washing benches at a taxicab facility at Kansas City airport (photo: Phillip Morgan)
WND earlier reported on the situation at Kansas City International Airport, where officials completed the installation and then announced the washing areas could be used for any number of purposes.
“Many of us believe that had this request come from, say, a majority of Catholic cab drivers who requested holy water founts or to have a Ten Commandments plaque installed in airport public facilities, even at their own expense, there would have been a severe outcry from the PC (politically correct) bully pulpit about ‘separation of church and state’ and in the name of ‘religious tolerance,’” said Missy Holthoefer, a longtime KCI user.
“When will the PC bureaucrats get a real clue from history and religious studies that appeasement is the worst way to counter the growing threat from Islamic radicals? To the PC crowd: ‘Muslim appeasement’ [equals] ‘showing weakness and thus vulnerability,’” she said.
One official at KCI even apparently tried intimidation in an effort to eliminate discussion about the recently installed footbaths, after repeated denials that they are intended for Muslims to perform their ritual.
“That’s the way I perceived it,” Kevin Peterson told WND in a telephone interview.
Peterson said he shares his name with a union steward for the Air Traffic Controllers Union at Kansas City’s airport, but he is not the same individual. He was sent an e-mail from airport spokesman Joe McBride, who assumed he was writing to the union steward. about the issue.
“The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indianapolis Airport is installing Muslim foot-washing basins in an upcoming renovation,” Peterson wrote. “The paper says that Muslim footwashing basis are already installed at KCI.
“Are you planning to issue a denial as to the purpose of the KCI basins to the Indianapolis Star?” he asked.
“I assume you are the Kevin Peterson who is the union steward for the air traffic controllers union,” the e-mail, signed electronically with McBride’s name, said.
“Point number one on the first e-mail suggests that your [sic] are in the control tower near the cab facility. I read your previous e-mail on this topic. Your stance is not in the best interest of the airport and the federal government, your employer,” the e-mail said.
Peterson, however, said McBride had called later to apologize for the tone of his note.
“My opinion is that the decision makers at KCI were hiding behind Mr. McBride,” Peterson said.