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The Transportation Safety Administration doesn’t want summer travelers to be alarmed if they see Muslims engaged in religious rituals on planes or in airports during Ramadan.
During Islam’s holy month, from now through the first week of August, Muslim travelers may be seen bowing or kneeling in prayer, reciting the Quran, or washing their feet in airport restrooms.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says he hopes the TSA advisory prevents misunderstandings among other passengers.
He says it’s also good for TSA agents to be alerted, so that Muslim rituals don’t give rise to security concerns.
The full TSA statement:
Ramadan, a holy month for persons of the Muslim faith, begins this year approximately on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 and ends on Thursday, August 8, 2013. TSA understands that this is a significant religious event for the Muslim community. TSA has reminded its security workforce that traveling passengers may be observed at various areas in the airport – including security checkpoints or on aircraft – engaged in religious practices and meditations during Ramadan. TSA would also like to inform the traveling public that they may notice passengers who are observing Ramadan engaging in the following activities at the airports:
- Passengers observing Ramadan will abstain from any food, water, smoking or vices of any kind.
- Passengers observing Ramadan may be more likely to engage in prayer at airports or on airplanes while traveling than at other times during the year.
- Before prayer, Muslims go through ablution, i.e., a cleansing or washing of certain areas of the body that is usually done in private if possible, but may be observed in airport restrooms.
- Passengers observing Ramadan may be seen reading, listening to or orally reciting the Holy Qur’an at airports and on airplanes.
- Passengers observing Ramadan may carry prayer beads and “whisper” prayers constantly.