A footbath has been installed in a corner of a unisex restroom at the student center at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. The University of Michigan-Dearborn, right, is planning to install footbaths in an effort to accommodate Muslim students.
Try to see your way clear of the Times taqiya.
Universities Install Footbaths to Benefit Muslims, and Not Everyone Is Pleased NY Times hat tip Michael
When pools of water began accumulating on the floor in some restrooms at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the sinks pulling away from the walls, the problem was easy to pinpoint. On this campus, more than 10 percent of the students are Muslims, and as part of ritual ablutions required before their five-times-a-day prayers, some were washing their feet in the sinks.
The solution seemed straightforward. After discussions with the Muslim Students’ Association, the university announced that it would install $25,000 foot-washing stations in several restrooms.
But as a legal and political matter, that solution has not been quite so simple. When word of the plan got out this spring, it created instant controversy, with bloggers going on about the Islamification of the university, students divided on the use of their building-maintenance fees, and tricky legal questions about whether the plan is a legitimate accommodation of students’ right to practice their religion — or unconstitutional government support for that religion.
Tricky? Separation of church and state is tricky?
As the nation’s Muslim population grows, issues of religious accommodation are becoming more common, and more complicated. Many public school districts are grappling with questions about prayer rooms for Muslim students, halal food in cafeterias and scheduling around important Muslim holidays. As Muslim students point out, the school calendar already accommodates Christians, with Sundays off and vacations around Christmas and Easter.
“Starting about two years ago, school attorneys have been asking more and more questions about accommodations for Muslim students,” said Lisa Soronen, a National School Boards Association lawyer. “These issues don’t get litigated very often; they’re usually worked out one by one.”
One by one? WTF? Exception makes bad law.
Nationwide, more than a dozen universities have footbaths, many installed in new buildings. On some campuses, like George Mason University in Virginia, and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., there was no outcry. At Eastern Michigan, even some Muslim students were surprised by the appearance of the footbath — a single spigot delivering 45 seconds of water — in a partitioned corner of the restroom in the new student union.
No outcry? There should have been a tsunami of outrage.
“My sister told me about it, and I didn’t believe it,” said Najla Malaibari, a graduate student at Eastern Michigan. “I was, ‘No way,’ and she said, ‘Yeah, go crazy.’ It really is convenient.”
But after a Muslim student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College slipped and hurt herself last fall while washing her feet in a sink, word got out there that the college was considering installing a footbath, and a local columnist accused the college of a double standard — stopping a campus coffee cart from playing Christmas music but taking a different attitude toward Islam.
Read it all at the dhimmi Times.
UPDATE: Atlas reader HR writes, "Good Lord, I didn't know these things are foot baths: I've been peeing in them!"