An office worker placed a sign in a men’s bathroom at a Sydney, Australia, office building to try and stop Muslim workers from washing their feet in the sink before their daily prayers.
The sign featured a cartoon of a man washing his foot in the sink with a slash through it, reports The Daily Mail. It was placed on the door of the men’s bathroom.
The sign was posted days after an office worker asked a Muslim employee at the building's convenience store what he was doing with his foot in the sink.
Mohammad Faisal, 26, originally from Pakistan, who is completing his studies in Australia, works 20 hours a week at the building’s convenience store. His shift is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which fall between two of the five daily required prayers in the Muslim religion, Dhuhr and Asr.
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Faisal goes to the first floor men’s bathroom to perform his pre-prayer ablutions, which require that he wash his hands, mouth, head, neck, arms, and place his feet one at a time in the bathroom's two sinks.
Faisal tried another method of taking water from the sink to the ground but it did not work well.
“I have done it when you bring water from the sink down to the ground to wash your feet, but it makes too much of a mess, it is not clean and it makes the floor slippery and dangerous,” Faisal said.
On one recent occasion, an office worker walked in on Faisal while he had one of his feet in the sink.
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“He said ‘what are you doing’ and [I] said ‘I just washed my feet’ and he said ‘okay’ and left,” Faisal recalled.
Days later, the sign appeared.
“Then yesterday this sign went up,” Faisal said. “I don't know, maybe he put it up because he didn't like it. I don't like to blame anyone. At first when I saw the sign I smiled, but then I thought why did he put up this sign, is it meant to mean we are not to do our ablution. But I must do ablution or I cannot pray. It's about being respectful to my religion.”
Islamic prayer is “one of the central elements of Islamic practice and worship," The Islamic Supreme Council Of America explained. "The observance of the ritual prayer forms the framework of each Muslim’s day.”
Faisal’s manager told his superior, who then contacted Muslim community advocate Zaky Mallah, out of outrage for the building employee's alleged attempt to prevent working Muslims from using the sink for their ablutions.
“This country has freedom of speech but that cartoon is racist and it is taking freedom of expression too far,” Mallah said. “When was it a crime to wash up in a men's room for Muslim prayers? It happens everywhere around the world. When Muslims want to perform their five daily prayers they have to go and wash up. And it would be happening around Australia every day for Muslim men, and women too. Possibly this man [who put up the cartoon] thought he was being funny, but this is a ridiculous joke and it is intimidating people going about daily business.”
Paul Culbi, who works at Jamesons, the strata managers of the building, called the cartoon “racist, defamatory and a breach of owner corporation guidelines.”
“I would like to say that this racist item is against guidelines and I will be making a report to the owners,” Culbi said. “Apart from being a breach of guidelines to place anything up like that without owners' permission, it is racist. I have questioned the caretaker[,] who doesn't know anything about it.”
Faisal said he has not allowed the cartoon to discourage his activities and continues to use the bathroom to perform his ablutions.
Photo Source: Flickr