For Muslims at AZ Airport, a Place to Wash Before Prayers

May 20, 2004

Source: The Arizona Republic

On May 20, 2004 The Arizona Republic reported, "When limousine driver Jihad Manfoukh needs a place to clean up before praying, he heads to the taxi and limo holding lot at Sky Harbor International Airport. There, on a blacktop expanse, airport authorities have installed a cleanup station to help Manfoukh and other Muslim drivers meet their religious needs. Two faucets, two feet above the ground, enable the drivers to conduct ritual cleansing, including washing of the feet, before they pray. They are situated as part of washroom facilities in a fenced-off parking lot on the west side of the airport, where taxi drivers gather, waiting to be called forward to the terminals for fares. 'The cab drivers were asking for more washroom facilities as a group, and a majority of them wanted some place to wash before they pray,' said Deborah Ostreicher, public information officer for the airport. "Sometimes there are as many as 400 drivers waiting, and they can be there for hours at a time... Manfoukh, a Chandler resident who was born in Lebanon, said Muslim drivers have been asking for a place to wash their feet for about a year. He estimates that 80 to 90 percent of drivers at the airport practice Islam."