The pastor of a Christian church says there’s no need for public facilities such as the Indianapolis Airport to provide footwashing facilities for Muslim cab drivers, as plans now include, because the Quran does not require washing with water.

Such footbaths have become an issue at public facilities like the Indianapolis airport, where plans for the still-unfinished new terminal include such facilities. At Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix airport officials boasted of the new customer service feature, and at Kansas City the features were installed but airport officials said they were for a number of different uses.

But Rev. Jerry Hillenburg, pastor at Hope Baptist Church in Indianapolis, is holding a rally tomorrow at his church to generate opposition to the Indianapolis plans, and said his Quran gives an exemption to faithful Muslims who don’t have ready access to water for their washing prior to their five-times-a-day prayer rituals.

What should they use? Dirt.

“They don’t have to have water. The airports should just put some dirt out there,” he said.

The Quran, as translated by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, the foreign minister of Pakistan in 1947 and later a judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, and published by Interlink Publishing Group, in fact, appears to document just that.

“O ye who believe, when you make ready for Prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and pass your wet hands over your heads, and wash your feet up to the ankles. Should you have consorted with your spouses, purify yourselves by bathing. Should you be ill or on a journey, or one of you comes from the privy, or you have consorted with your spouses and you find not water, then have recourse to pure dust and having placed your hands on it pass them over your faces and forearms. Allah desires not to put you in a difficulty, but desires to purify you and to complete His favour unto you that you may be grateful,” according to Chapter 5, sections 7-8 in that edition.

A second reference, Chapter 4, section 44, reads: “O ye who believe, approach not Prayer when you are not in full possession of your faculties, until you realize the true import of your supplications, nor when you have consorted with your wives, except during the course of a journey, until you have washed. Should you be ill or on a journey, or if one of you comes from the privy, or you have consorted with your wives and you find no water, then betake yourselves to clean dust and wipe therewith your face and your hands. Surely, Allah is Most Indulgent, Most Forgiving.”

Hillenburg has set up a rally at his church at 11 a.m. tomorrow to generate opposition to the airport proposals.

“The expectation that we have is that since no work has yet been done, they are still working on the outside of the building, we would like to get the city to say to us, ‘No, we’re not going to do that,’ for the sake of the equity of religious systems,” he told WND.

Prayer rugs at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where officials boasted of having provided the customer service feature of footwashing benches for Muslims

Joining Hillenburg on the stage at the rally will be Advance America president Eric Miller, Faith Baptist Senior Pastor Dr. Marc Monte and others. Hillenburg said the local officials have not been responsive so far to his concerns, and an editorial in a local newspaper called for the installation of special features to accommodate Muslims on public property.

WND previously has reported on the Sky Harbor situation in Arizona.

“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.”

Foot-washing benches at a taxicab facility at Kansas City airport (photo: Phillip Morgan)

WND also reported on the situation in Kansas City International, where similar facilities now exist, although airport officials repeatedly have insisted the washing facilities are for anyone aided by the presence of seating and low faucets.

Indianapolis 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.

Hillenburg said Ten Commandments monuments are being removed from public property, prayer is banned in schools and Legislatures. “[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.”

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.”

Previous stories:

Muslim footbaths spark another fight

Airport with footbaths turns to intimidation

Airport admits installing foot-washing benches

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