Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Airport admits installing foot-washing benches

From "Airport admits installing foot-washing benches" posted 5/1/07 at

Kansas City officials have acknowledged installing foot-washing benches in a restroom at the airport, but deny they're intended for Muslim cab drivers.

WND over the weekend reported that KCI Airport recently constructed four foot-washing benches to accommodate a growing number of Muslim drivers who requested the facilities to prepare for daily Islamic prayer.

The story set off a firestorm after talk radio host Michael Savage ran with it on his nationally syndicated show. Local media in Kansas City, Mo., also weighed in on the controversy, triggering an official response from airport authorities.

"Recently, a small expansion was made to the building," said Kansas City Aviation Department spokesman Joe McBride in a statement to WND. "Included were wash areas used for any wash purpose by any of the users, including filling car wash buckets."

He insisted the wash benches were not "built for the exclusive use of any ethnic group or culture."

However, the department director in an earlier statement to WND appeared to contradict that claim.

"The majority of our drivers are Muslim, so preventing them from praying at all was not an option, especially in our public terminal restrooms," said Mark VanLoh, director of the Kansas City Aviation Department. "This was the best solution, and those facilities were added without public money."

He added that cab drivers paid for construction through a one-dollar per-trip fee.

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