Indy Airport Begins Installation of Muslim Foot Baths
Floor sinks to accommodate prayer requirements for Muslim taxi drivers will be installed at Indianapolis International Airport by fall.
David Dawson, a spokesman for the airport project, said this week that two bathrooms, one for men and one for women, will have the sinks. Both will be in a 900-square-foot building where taxi drivers gather before picking up passengers at the terminal.
Many of the taxi drivers are Muslims who pray five times a day. The prayer involves many rituals, including washing the feet.
Drivers now use hand sinks at the existing terminal, which has caused safety hazards.
“The result of that is there is standing water on the floor and structural stress on the sink,” Dawson said.
That created a sanitation problem and was the main reason the floor sinks were proposed, he said.
Osmand Djama, 44, a taxi driver who uses the facility, said about 180 taxi drivers, most of whom are men, use the bathroom, making it unsanitary.
According to Dawson, the cost of the sinks is estimated at $750 each. They are expected to be installed by the end of October, the same time construction on the new midfield terminal should be completed.
The Airport Authority Board approved the installation plan in February despite some public objection and criticism from a local minister.
The Rev. Jerry Hillenburg of Hope Baptist Church in Indianapolis, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, called the sinks unconstitutional and said they showed a dangerous concession to Islam. Hillenburg and his supporters rallied at Hope Baptist Church against the sinks last fall.