Tuesday, June 05, 2007

U of M "foot bath" station is about hygiene

What escaped being printed in this story is that Muslims make ritual ablutions before prayers and that Muslims have been putting their feet in face bowls because washing feet is a portion of the ritual ablution. The University of Michigan-Dearborn is simply making provisions based upon hygiene concerns. The school cannot restrict the practice of Muslims washing themselves for prayer.

The safety issue is also a factor in regards to possible slipping of a student or staff due to wet floors from feet washing, which is currently done at the face bowl areas.


College's foot bath plans spark backlash
Project for Muslim students draws accusation U-M Dearborn is giving faith favored treatment.

Karen Bouffard / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- The University of Michigan-Dearborn plans to spend $25,000 for foot-washing stations, making it easier for Muslim students to practice their religion but sparking questions about the separation of church and state.

The university claims the stations are needed to accommodate Muslim students, who must ritually wash their bodies -- including the feet -- up to five times each day before prayers. But critics hit conservative blogs and radio airwaves Monday to argue public money shouldn't cover the cost.

"Technically, they've got a problem, because it's public money they're using to pay for this," said Hal Downs, president of the Michigan chapter of Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"It's one of those issues that we're going to be facing more and more in this community."

The Internet has created the fuss at U-M Dearborn, argued Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"To my knowledge, none of the students or staff have made any complaints about the foot-washing area," Walid said.

"This whole thing came to light through some right-wing Islama-phobic bloggers that want to promulgate the idea that the university is being Islama-fied."(MORE)


T.R. Clancy said...

A comment on your blog has been posted at Dearborn Underground.


Dawud Walid said...

The foot bathes were not a direct result of Muslims lobbying for them.

You are correct in validating my statement that is was a hygiene concern that people would not want to use a face bowl after seeing someone wash their feet in it. For that matter, I don't know why anyone would want to use a face bowl in a public restroom to begin with.

There was no contradiction in my comment, sir.

Hindus wash their feet before entering entering into a sacred area for prayer as well.


Anonymous said...

I should not have to care what Muslims do in their religion because it should not impact me or my family. According to the ACLU, I should not have to be encumbered by any religion in my activities funded by Federal dollars. In addition to foot baths, the Muslim religion requires that prayers be blared from minarets 5 times a day. When will I be expected to endure this? Are Christians, therefore, unclean because they do not wash their feet berfore praying? If not, another rationale against supporting Islam with public money is established. I will endeavor to post this comment elsewhere in case it is censored.

Dawud Walid said...

Tax dollars aren't paying for the unisex bathrooms where there will be two spickets to wash feet; it is coming from student activity fees.

Universities frequently spend funds to accommodate special needs of students. Have you written to Columbia University to complain about them having Kosher meals?

You shouldn't because it's legitimate for Columbia U. to do so. If you did, you may be accussed of being Anti-Semitic if it went public.

So if you aren't opposed to that, then it appears that you're opposed to this strictly on the basis because you may not like Muslims, right?

Calling prayer from loudspeakers and having minarets is not a religious obligation, by the way, although it is protected in our Constitution just as Catholic churches ring loud bells in neighborhoods for prayer time.

Also since Christians aren't Muslims, Christians aren't bound by our jurisprudence. No one stated that Christians are ritually impure to pray if they don't wash their feet.

Please re-evaluate your intentions and your reasoning in regards to your post.

Thank you.

Mart said...

"Tax dollars aren't paying for the unisex bathrooms where there will be two spickets to wash feet; it is coming from student activity fees."

Your statement that government money is not being used is questionable. The footbaths are being paid for from the university's general fund.

"The foot bathes were not a direct result of Muslims lobbying for them"

Not true. The Muslim Student Association did plenty of lobbying. They bragged on their website that the installation of footbaths was a direct result their efforts, listing it as a MSA "success". The notation mysteriously dissappeared after this situation went public.

This is government accomodating a specific religion and is in violation of the US Constitution.