Foot-Washing Sink Proposal Causes Stir

Airport Considers Installing Foot-Washing Sink

A proposal to install a foot-washing sink at Indianapolis International Airport is prompting debate over ethnicity, religion and the U.S. constitution.

Muslims use the sinks to wash their feet before praying but some say that allowing the sinks on public property violates the separation of church and state, 6News' Cheryl Jackson reported.

Airport officials said they are considering installing a sink because of safety and health issues, with no consideration of religion.

More than 100 Muslim taxi drivers currently use a traditional sink at the airport, leaving the floor wet and increasing the possibility of passing germs. Shariq Siddiqui said he thinks opposition to the plan is at the surface of a bigger issue.

"This is an issue of Islamophobia. This is not about sinks," Siddiqui said. "The only difference between me and my neighbor is that we may follow different faith traditions."

Siddiqui said he thinks many people connect Muslims to Islamic extremists and said the situation Muslims face in America is no different than those who blame all black people for crime or lump Hispanics into one stereotypical identity.

The Rev. Jerry Hillenburg, of Hope Baptist Church, outlined a biblical and constitutional campaign against the airport proposal in the church's newsletter.

"It is absolutely unconstitutional and positively discriminatory," Hillenburg said. "We're here to address the unconstitutional use of public property and use of taxpayer monies to support … and promote a single religion -- that religion in this case being Islam."

Hillenburg, whose son died while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he is personally offended by the idea of installing a foot-washing sink in the airport to accommodate one group of people.

"Some have tried to make this about the death of my son, Eric, that I am only a grieving father embittered because my son was killed in combat in this current war," Hillenburg said.

Some people support the idea of installing the sink because of the time it takes Muslims to complete that part of the prayer ritual.

"Whether we have a sink or not, we have to do it and people will do it," said Abdinisir Farah.

Airport officials said they are considering the proposal and will take all arguments into account before deciding whether to install the foot-washing sink.

Foot-washing sinks were an issue earlier this year in Minnesota, when Minneapolis Community and Technical College introduced a plan to install them.

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