Thursday, November 23, 2006

Walid comments on praying in public in airports

Praying in public concerns Muslims

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

Muslims protest removal from flight

DEARBORN -- With many Muslims traveling to and from Detroit Metro Airport for major events in December, local leaders said they are concerned about continuing friction at airports and the phenomenon many now call "flying while Muslim."

The Hajj begins on Dec. 29, with thousands attending from Metro Detroit, and the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America are holding their annual convention in Dearborn from Dec. 21-25.

"Our concern is that when there's a large delegation of Muslims traveling from or to the city, when prayer time comes, they may be seen as doing something suspicious, when in fact it is nothing but prayer," said Dawud Walid, the local director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Muslims generally have two kinds of prayer. One is a silent, often brief invocation that may occur throughout the day. The other, which is supposed to occur five times a day, involves some ceremony beyond simply kneeling, as Muslims prostrate themselves, touching their foreheads to the ground, in order to venerate God.

Eide Alawan of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn said that he always looks for a place to practice that prayer in some isolation. And if no provisions can be made, Alawan said he suggests that Muslims ask for permission and explain to others nearby what they are doing.

"I tell people it's common courtesy," Alawan said.

"I tell Muslims, 'You should ask for permission.' I have never been refused, by the way. There is always an accommodation that can be made."

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