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New Orlando Airport Prayer Room 'A Mosque': Franklin Graham

New Orlando Airport Prayer Room 'A Mosque': Franklin Graham
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By    |   Saturday, 22 August 2015 02:29 PM

Orlando International Airport's new prayer room is nothing but a mosque, The Rev. Franklin Graham says, complaining that the facility is spending a quarter million dollars to appease Muslims.

"The airport already had an interfaith prayer room since 1983 (with prayer rugs available in it) — but that wasn’t enough," the evangelist said on his Facebook page.


"How loud do you think the objections would be today if they spent $250,000 in taxpayer money to build a new prayer room exclusively for evangelical Christians? Or for Jews or Mormons or any other group? Why do Muslims get preference?"

The prayer room is to open on Sept. 1, Graham said, and "let's call this what it is — a mosque," posting a link to an article in The Washington Times about the the new prayer room.

In the Times article, it was noted that the airport decided to open the prayer room on the same Day Emirates Airlines will start offering direct flights from Orlando to Dubai. Most of the airline's customers are Muslims and Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, told the local CNN affiliate  that the rooms will provide travelers "an opportunity to pray in their own way and have peace before they take on a long flight."

But while Graham and other opponents say the room is costing $250,000 in taxpayer money, airport officials told the International Business Times  that it is about 1,000 square feet and is only one part of the entire quarter-million project, which covers almost 4,000 square feet and will include an international lounge, charging stations for electronic devices and other enahncements.

Carolyn Fennell, the airport's public affairs director, said the "Reflection Room" will give Muslims a more suitable place to pray "so they aren’t having to, if it is the case, kneel on the bathroom floors or in corners so they have the reflective time," according to The Washington Times.

The room will include a place for pre-prayer washing, shoe racks and signs that point the directions north, south, east, or west, so that the Muslims using the room can face Mecca when saying their prayers, reports the local Miami NBC News affilate. 

According to Fennell, the airport has seen a 14 percent growth in international passengers and the new enhancements are underway to improve the airport's customer service, International Business Times reported.

"As we get more passengers, we need to add spaces that accommodate and offer amenities for diverse passengers," she said. "We’re a global connection point -- the most visited destination in the country for three years running."

She also said the new "reflection room" is open as space for all passengers, not only Muslims, and it will contain no religious symbols.

The airport has had an nondenominational chapel since it opened in 1981, and plans open another nondenominational space in its pre-security section.

However, the reassurances are angering not only Graham, but other conservatives.

“Are ticket prices going to increase for everyone so a super small percentage of people will be allowed to enter this praying room?” wrote John Roberts for the Young Conservatives website. 

Fennell denied that tax dollars are used for the airport's operations. Instead, about 30 percent of the facility's funding comes from the airlines, with another 70 percent generated through user fees at restaurants, hotels, and other businesses at the facility.

"We do use passenger facility charges that are built into ticket fees, as virtually all airports do," Fennell said.

According to International Business Times, several large airports offer similar multifaith prayer rooms, including in Detroit, San Francisco, and Boston.

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Orlando International Airport's new prayer room is nothing but a mosque, The Rev. Franklin Graham says, complaining that the facility is spending a quarter million dollars to appease Muslims.
orlando, airport, muslim, prayer, room, franklin graham
Saturday, 22 August 2015 02:29 PM
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