ORLANDO, Fla. — An airport in Florida is set to open a new prayer room to accommodate Muslims using its airlines.
The Islamic “Reflection Room” is expected to open at the Orlando International Airport by September 1, and according to reports, is the result of added flights to Dubai from the location. It is part of a $250,000 building project that includes a lounge and electronic charging stations.
“Orlando is truly becoming a global community, and we want to be able to accommodate and provide high-quality amenities for all our passengers,” Director Phil Brown told the Orlando Sentinel.
“These rooms provide travelers an opportunity to pray in their own way and have peace before they take on a long flight,” Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, also told reporters. “So they aren’t having to, if it is the case, kneel on bathroom floors or in corners so they have the reflective time.”
While the room is being constructed for Muslim needs, it will also be open to those of other religions.
“This is the place where we welcome people of all faiths,” Roman Catholic priest and airport Chaplain Robert Susann, who leads services at the airport chapel, said. “I’m here to bring the presence of God to them.”
But not everyone is pleased with the idea.
“[T]hat’s sure to make a Judeo-Christian nation feel more comfortable after seeing all the Islamic-related tragedies that have taken place on our soil the past 15 years,” John Roberts of Young Conservatives wrote with sarcasm in a blog post this week. “I guess if British Airlines signs a contract with OIA we’ll all be served tea and crumpets.”
As previously reported, a number of airports across the country already have prayer rooms available for various faiths, including Muslims. The Universal Society of Hinduism in Nevada, which is seeking designated rooms at international airports, pointed last month to a report by the Pew Research Center, which released information regarding the chapels available at U.S. airports to accommodate the world’s various religions.
“Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, meanwhile, has five different interfaith chapels—one in every terminal,” it quoted from the study, and “Washington Dulles International Airport, near Washington, D.C., offers weekly Catholic mass, Protestant worship and Christian prayer services, as well as daily Jewish and Muslim prayer services.”
The John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York also has the Our Lady of the Skies Roman Catholic Chapel, the International Islamic Center, the International Synagogue and the Christ for the World Protestant Chapel available for travelers, and “meditation rooms” are present at the Albuquerque International Sunport in New Mexico, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, and the Chicago Midway International Airport in Illinois.
Orlando International Airport is stated to serve over 30 million passengers each year and is the 14th largest airport in the United States.