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December 2, 2006
Muslims Want Prayer Room At Minneapolis Airport

The fallout from the US Air decision to bar six Muslims from a flight last week continues. Now local Muslims want Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to provide them with a room for their prayers in order to keep other passengers from seeing them as a security threat. MSP officials might agree to a non-denominational "meditation space" as a compromise:

Area Muslim religious leaders have asked for a prayer room at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after six Muslim leaders were escorted off a plane last week because of security concerns.

The local imams, who prayed on the mezzanine level before meeting with airport officials Friday afternoon, said a prayer room is essential because of the need to pray several times a day. The act itself is nonintrusive, they said.

"We as Muslims, we are part of this country," said Abdulrehman Hersi, a Minneapolis imam. "You have to pray wherever you are. Our prayer ... we believe that we talk to our lord. It does not make harm to anyone."

Airport director Steve Wareham said it would be possible to accommodate their needs, possibly in the form of a "meditation room" like those available at other airports. Such a room would be interfaith, he said.

This is another attempt to obfuscate the events that occured in Minneapolis last week and to paint the incident as bigotry run amuck. The passengers and flight crew did not remove the imams for merely offering sunset prayers, as implied in this statement. They carried on loud political conversations about their opposition to the war on terror, they took seats which were not assigned to them, they interfered with boarding of other passengers, and they requested seatbelt extensions for their supposed girth. I outweigh all of these men, and I've never had a problem using a standard belt.

Now they want to continue their victim act by demanding that the airport commission grant them their own secluded space for the practice of their religion. Bunk. All travelers have the same accommodations in airports, regardless of religion or race, and that's the way it should stay. Catholics and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists have prayed in MSP over the years and suffered no problems for it, and I daresay so have Muslims before these acts of deliberate provocation.

I pray every time I get on a plane, and usually at least once during the flight. I somehow manage to constrain myself to praying silently and doing a sign of the Cross. I don't insist on being disruptive, calling attention to myself, or conducting deliberate provocations. I don't get out of my seat during the boarding process to confer with other Catholics about the war on terror. Given the nature of my prayers, I don't loudly pray to Jesus that he keep the plane from crashing in the gate area of the airport.

If I did those things, I would also expect the airport to set aside a special room for me. It would be called a holding cell, and I'd deserve it. Maybe the local Muslims ought to consider that when they make this request.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 2, 2006 10:21 AM

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