SHAFAQNA -Â Orlando International Airport has decided to add a prayer room for Muslims after Emirates Airlines announced non-stop flights in and out of Orlando in March.
The airport will spend almost $250,000 to build a prayer room which will open for Emiratesâ€™ inaugural flight on September 1. The room will also feature an ablution area, carry-on-luggage bins and shoe racks, as well as directional signs for north, south, east and west.
Orlando airport Director Phil Brown confirmed the news in a written statement to theÂ Orlando Sentinel, saying, â€œOrlando is truly becoming a global community, and we want to be able to accommodate and provide high-quality amenities for all our passengers.â€
Currently, Muslim travellers at Orlando International Airport pray in public or in restrooms. Some also visit a small nondenominational chapel on Airside B as there are a couple of prayer rugs there for their use.
According to Father Robert Susann, the airport chaplain, it is quite common to see Muslims in the chapel. â€œWe try to cover everybody,â€ Susann said. â€œWeâ€™re doing the best we can.â€
He called the addition of the prayer room â€œa good idea, especially its location on Airside 4, where Dubai-based Emirates will be located, along with several other international carriers.â€
Shayan Modarres, an Orlando civil-rights attorney and Muslim, also hailed the addition a welcome one for Muslims. â€œMany Muslims have felt isolated and uncomfortable in this country after the terrorist attacks of 9-11. But having a reflection room at the airport is a great step in the right direction, especially for tolerance and inclusion.â€
Modarres predicted the room will be popular with Muslims and said, â€œThis is the right message we need to send. Itâ€™s reconciliation.â€
However, Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said the room will also be open to people of all faiths. He further said that a reflection room showed Orlando truly was an international destination.
Airport spokesperson Carolyn Fennell further revealed, â€œIn addition to the reflection room, Orlando International also intends to build another chapel and place in the main terminal, where it can be reached without going through security.â€