Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Revisiting the facts regarding "foot bath" controversy at U of M - Dearborn

Regarding the ongoing controversy about the scheduled installation of "foot baths" at the University of Michigan - Dearborn, I'd like to present the following facts:

Fact #1 - The installation of the foot baths at the University of Michigan - Dearborn in two unisex bathrooms are not Muslim only bathrooms. They are open to the entire public regardless of their gender or religion.

Fact #2 - Safety modifications are frequently made in public areas when the need arises. The university cannot legally say that no one can wash their feet for prayer or any other reason. Having people wash their feet in high traffic bathrooms causing the floor to get wet presents a safety hazard to all that enter.

Fact #3 - Most people get grossed out seeing someone washing their feet in a face bowl. For hygiene purposes, people would shy away from using a face bowl where someone just washed their feet in it.

Fact #4 - Public educational institutions factor in religious needs all the time. Although masked in non-religious language, schools close during Christmas and Easter time because it would not be feasible to leave the schools open when a vast majority of the students are going to be absent. In the Philadelphia and New York City, schools are closed for Yom Kippur for the same reason, right? If any district or university has a sizeable religious population outside of these two, should they not be accomodated as well?

The ACLU's position of not fighting the foot bath issue is based upon facts #1 and #2. The hypocrisy of the whole situation, however, resides in fact #4. The loudest voices against the "footh bath" situation are themselves fundamentalists within their own faiths, bordering on being zealots. Their Islamophobic rhetoric is veiled under the guise of separation of church and state. The zealots, however, have no problem with their faiths being accomodated.

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