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Airport Plans $250k Prayer Room Ahead of Muslim Influx

Airport Plans $250k Prayer Room Ahead of Muslim Influx
Jeff Edwards

Officials at Orlando International Airport (MCO) expect to have a new prayer room catering to Muslim passengers and employees in time to welcome Emirates service to the resort destination.

By the time Emirates begins inaugural service between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) in September, airport officials in Orlando expect to cut the ribbon on a new $250,000 reflection room. The prayer space will be open to visitors of all faiths, but will incorporate features to make the worship area appropriate for Muslim travelers.

According to details of the planned facility reported in the Orlando Sentinelthe reflection room will incorporate built-in compass directions for visitors who wish to pray facing towards Mecca. Prayer rugs will be available and an ablution area along with storage for shoes and luggage will also be provided.

“Orlando is truly becoming a global community, and we want to be able to accommodate and provide high-quality amenities for all our passengers,” MCO Director Phil Brown told the Sentinel. 

The existing chapel at the airport has a limited number of prayer rugs available for Muslim passengers who wish to take advantage of the facility, but for international travelers, the current chapel is inconveniently located and many travelers were put in the position of having to perform religious rites in the public areas of the airport, in some cases even choosing to practice their faith in restroom facilities.

Longtime airport chaplin, Father Robert Susann views the planned reflection room as a welcome addition to the airport. “This is the place where we welcome people of all faiths,” he said. “I’m here to bring the presence of God to them.”

[Photo: iStock]

View Comments (10)

10 Comments

  1. HMPS

    August 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    WOW! I want to bet that at the appointed (5x) times of the day it will be Muslim rituals only. QUESTION Muslim prayer rooms are gender segregrted, will that rule prevail ?

  2. saleenxp8

    August 24, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    doesn’t bother me…as long as the airport charges a “passenger facility fee” to use it, like they charge to use everything else that they build

  3. Alimo

    August 24, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    HMPS, I’m not sure what your problem is.

    Hospitals and airports are two places that see a wide diversity of cultures, so I think it is fair to compare the two. The hospitals I work at all have chapels and they are accommodating of all their patients’ faiths. The children’s hospital, for example, has a prie dieu (prayer/kneeling bench) before beautiful stained glass (primarily for the Christians and those who meditate), prayer rugs for the daily Muslim prayers, Hebrew artwork (and I believe a Menorah for Hanukkah), texts from over a dozen major faiths, and a statue specific to Buddhists. And I am sure they are open to donations of any religious texts they do not have. Another hospital I work at has weekly Church service on Sundays and Friday Muslim prayers (they may also have other regular services I am not aware of).

    Besides Islam, no major religion I know of has required daily religious obligations. For an airport to be accommodating to all the needs of its passengers (yes, even benign religious needs) is a step forward and should be welcomed. And, because of Muslims’ unique requirement to pray in a specific fashion during designated windows of time, it also makes sense that the new prayer room be designed in a way to allow them to pray.

    If anything, a person like HMPS should be happy that an airport accommodates Muslims in this regard. It allows Muslims to fulfill their religious obligations outside of a public setting, so that people like HMPS don’t have to freak out when a Muslim starts to pray in front of him/her because the Muslim has nowhere else to pray.

    One correction, by the way: Muslim prayer rooms actually aren’t gender segregated. If you’ve seen that at a mosque, that is a mosque-specific rule, not an Islamic rule. None of the chapels that are at my hospitals have been gender segregated nor have their been any complaints regarding the lack of segregation.

  4. FliesWay2Much

    August 25, 2015 at 6:15 am

    There are multi-faith prayer rooms and chapels all over the place: airports, hospitals, etc. There is even one in the Pentagon. At my wife’s hospital, there have been many times where she has been in the chapel (she’s a hospital chaplain) and a Muslim has come in, taken his prayer rug, and prayed right along side my wife ministering to someone of another faith. If MCO has never had a chapel, I’m glad to see that they are finally building one.

  5. FliesWay2Much

    August 25, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Sorry — I just re-read the article. I had missed the paragraph about the existing multi-faith prayer room. Regardless, I’m pleased that MCO is taking this initiative for all faiths. (Mods — please combine my two posts if you’d like.)

  6. Open Jaw

    August 25, 2015 at 9:21 am

    We should not be accommodating any Muslim customs in the U.S. until non-Muslims are allowed to practice their faiths without discrimination or fear in every Muslim nation. If paying five times a day is so important, stay home or travel only within the Muslim world.

  7. jjmoore

    August 25, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you Open Jaw … I fully support your stance. My initial comment was withheld by the mod, but I support your stance 100%.

  8. AlwaysFlyStar

    August 25, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    @Open Jaw, what a disgusting sentiment. To fault American Muslims for problems in the Middle East is akin to blaming all Asian-Americans for human rights abuses in China. Not only is it absurd, but it is incredibly xenophobic.

  9. m0hamed

    August 26, 2015 at 5:37 am

    It’s amusing when bigots feel they know so much about a topic they can comment.

    In reality: No, not all prayer areas are segregated. And this reflection space is like any other prayer room at any other airport, whether it is one of the five times of day than not.

    And you wonder why the World views America so?

  10. Open Jaw

    August 26, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    AlwaysFlyStar,

    I think you better reread my original statement again because I never mentioned the word American or Americans. Moreover, my statement was right on target because more Muslims will be coming to the U.S. due to the new route into MCO. People who mistreat others in their homelands should never be allowed to demand special treatment here in the U.S. As for you labeling me as xenophobic, you are dead wrong.
    This proves to me that you really do not understand what the word really means. Finally, a perfect example of a xenophobia is when a Muslim murders a non-believer because he or she did not agree with the Muslim point of view.

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