Orlando airport to add prayer room for Muslims ahead of Emirates’ arrival

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SHAFAQNA - 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 Emirates’ 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 the Orlando Sentinel, saying, “Orlando is truly becoming a global community, and we want to be able to accommodate and provide high-quality amenities for all our passengers.”

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. “We try to cover everybody,” Susann said. “We’re doing the best we can.”

He called the addition of the prayer room “a good idea, especially its location on Airside 4, where Dubai-based Emirates will be located, along with several other international carriers.”

Shayan Modarres, an Orlando civil-rights attorney and Muslim, also hailed the addition a welcome one for Muslims. “Many 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.”

Modarres predicted the room will be popular with Muslims and said, “This is the right message we need to send. It’s reconciliation.”

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, “In 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.”

 

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