Muslims in Barbados have been lobbying for rooms at Barbados' two main ports of entry and exit, for their religious needs, since they pray five times a day, while facing Mecca. These ports would include the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), and the Bridgetown Harbour.
Through the representative for the city, the lobbying of government has been made. Parliamentary representative for the city, Patrick Todd, submitted the matter during the second reading of the Barbados Port Inc. Exemption from Taxation Bill, in June.
Todd said the "special facility" would create a space for Muslims to wash their feet at both the seaport and airport and "not cause inconvenience to the rest of the community by having to wash their feet in a face basin in a washroom."
George Hutson Minister of International Business and International Transport, promised to look into their request while speaking in the House of Assembly. Hutson also added that they were looking at providing such a facility at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), and hopefully something could be done in the not too distant future.
The plan to have a prayer room for Muslims, at the expense of the tax payers of Barbados has, however, been shot down by two senators. Senator David Durant, is in opposition and said it would pose a security risk. Also in opposition to the prayer room for Muslims within the airport is also supported by Independent Senator Orlando Marville, who said such a facility was better place outside of the airport. The two senators spoke as the Upper House debated tax exemptions for the GAIA, last Friday.
"No one religion is to have that monopoly in Barbados and first of all Barbados is a Christian nation and that must not be compromised. But if we give a prayer room to one religious body you will need to provide prayer rooms for every other religious body, because they will apply, and if you grant permission to one then it will be difficult to refuse four or five others," Durant stated.
Governments should try they best not to become involved in religious matters, and no chapel, or private room for meditation at an airport should be set aside for any religious group(s) especially at the expense of all tax payers. Will Christians be also allowed to use this room? If Christians, or Hindus are using the room when Muslims want to pray, will they have to leave?
Government should not be supplying prayer rooms for any particular group, and such a facility is better suited maybe adjacent to the airport at the expense of Muslims.