Friday, April 20, 2007

Come for the Education, stay for the Footbath

This afternoon, NPR's All Things Considered reported on a controversy at Minneapolis Community and Technical College surrounding whether or not the college should install footbaths in the bathrooms for Muslim students.

I know there were more important stories by NPR today, such as "The Time-Honored Sound of a Bailiff's Cry," but time is precious.

The college began to consider the installation of the footbaths when a Muslim student slipped and hit her head while trying to wash her feet, presumably before prayer.

The piece is described as follows on NPR's website:

In Minneapolis, a proposal to install a footbath for Muslim students has provoked a national debate. the Minneapolis community and technical college is considering whether to install the fixtures after Muslim student slipped and hit her head. She was trying to wash her feet in a bathroom sink as part of her religious practice.

Although college president Phillip Davis noted that "No decision has been made as yet," he did seem sympathetic to the possibility.

Yet, more than 3,000 emails and letters have been sent to the college complaining about the proposal.

The Reporter, Michele Norris, didn't entirely lob softballs, but asked whether this would be "improper action by a public institution" and that critics are "saying that your institution was trying to accommodate on specific religious group."

This criticism is understandable, given that there are only 500 Muslim students, only 5% of the population at the school.

The reporter further asked: Might there be another alternative? such as "Benches, ground level faucets?"

To which president Davis responded:

"Our practice has been to install no particular facilities, but rather to work with students and try and see to it that they weren't using the sinks to wash their feet. Unfortunately, we haven't been that successful to the extent that we [still] continue to have students engaged in that practice and of course the corresponding spillage."

Davis described people who are concerned with the proposal as having "the sense of the claim that the college was somehow antagonistic to Christianity, while somehow favoring Islam."

He also noted that many of the responses from critics invoke the war on terror, 9/11, and Iraq.

...

How dare the college allow these students to live under such oppression?

Although, there may be a silver-lining here. The school can use the footbaths to simultaneously urge all the bare-footed hippies to wash their dirty bare feet. Although, that may discourage the Muslims from using the footbath, for fear of contamination by the filthy dhimmi infidel...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fostering understanding and tolerance for the diverse cultural groups that make up the US should be the goal for any developed country. Fighting such basic requirements as a footbath which is becoming normal in the rest of the developed world is a canker worm that is eating up our great society, let's stop proving to the rest of the world that we cannot keep up with change.

Anonymous said...

Fostering understanding and tolerance for the diverse cultural groups that make up the US should be the goal for any developed country. Fighting such basic requirements as a footbath which is becoming normal in the rest of the developed world is a canker worm that is eating up our great society, let's stop proving to the rest of the world that we cannot keep up with change.

Nick Brunetti-Lihach said...

I disagree.

1) Please explain how a footbath is a "basic requirement." Personally, Food and Shelter tend to rank higher than personal hygiene - for religious purposes or otherwise - on the list.

2) Cannot keep up with change? Are states not currently liberalising policy on gay marriage & civil unions, for one?

3) I fail to see how installing footbaths help to foster understanding. As you can see by the reaction of area residents, capitulation and special privileges for a specific group has only bred anger and discontent. Will Christians and Jews be allowed to use the footbaths if they so choose? Who is footing the bill for the footbaths?

4) Lastly, show me evidence of Muslim footbaths in Universities throughout South America, Africa and Asia to back up the "normal" basic requirements you cite. I left out Europe, since that continent has already tacitly abdicated its control and responsibility over the Muslim immigrant population.

Anonymous said...

This has NOTHING to do with a footbath! You wanna see something slippery at MCTC, check out the SLIPPERY SLOPE they're treading towards government-sanctioned religious practice.

Let's say I am an orthodox Jew. We believe menstrual women must be separated from men and bathed in the ritual bath, a mikvah. If we follow the "tolerance" advocate's logic, MCTC must build a mikvah to accomodate this religious practice to go along with the footbath.

Now let's say I am a Catholic. My religion requires me to confess my sins. I require a full-service Catholic chapel on campus, with priests available to hear confession 24 hours a day.

Imagine I'm a Satanist. To deny me reasonable accommodations to practice my ritual virgin rape and animal sacrifices is tantamount to discrimination. MCTC must provide me with the proper room and equipment to conduct my rituals.

Now, doesn't that sound ridiculous? Not half as ridiculous as suggesting a public institution should pay for a single religious accommodation.

Nick Brunetti-Lihach said...

I couldn't agree with you more.