Minneapolis Community and Technical College has been bombarded with letters and e-mails — most of them hostile, some of them hateful — since disclosing that it is considering the installation of a foot bath for some Muslim students to use before prayer. This reaction is out of proportion to the modest and cautious inquiry the school has undertaken, and it is certainly out of keeping with Minnesota’s long tradition of social tolerance and temperate thinking.

If the downtown Minneapolis school were discriminating in favor of Islam and against other faiths, we would understand the outrage. But it’s not. When Christian students asked for space to study the Bible and conduct prayers, the school obliged them. When a Jewish student asked to reschedule an assignment because of a religious observance, the college agreed.

If MCTC were setting some unusual precedent, we might worry. But it’s not. St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and at least a dozen other colleges around the country have installed small foot-washing facilities for their devout Muslim students — at modest cost and often using student fees rather than state revenues.


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