TN GOP outraged over “Muslim foot baths” in state capitol – otherwise known as “sinks”

Tennessee is fast on its way towards taking over Alabama and Mississippi for the title of most bigoted and backward state in the Union.  And this week’s story of how GOP legislators in the state capitol building confused a custodian’s wash basin for a “Muslim foot bath” will only further help to cement Tennessee’s reputation for intolerance.

It all began when the legislature decided to upgrade its 150 year old building by making improvement to the plumbing system.  Among those improvements were updated bathrooms, that included installing sinks for maintenance workers to fill their buckets used for cleaning the facilities.

But where normal America sees a maintenance sink, Tennessee America sees a Muslim.


Stephen Colbert shows a photo of the Tennessee state capitol sink mistaken for a terrorist foot bath. (See Colbert’s take at the end of this post – it’s priceless.)

You see, a few Republican lawmakers in the state legislature were convinced that the new sinks in the bathrooms were actually secret Muslim foot baths, used by devout Muslims to clean their face, feet and hands before praying.  Not surprisingly, the two lawmakers, Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro and Rep. Judd Matheny, proposed a law two years back to jail anyone who follows Shariah law (which, you know, is a big problem in Tennessee, being such a diverse welcoming place):

A proposed Tennessee law would make following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, introduced the same bill in the Senate and House last week. It calls Shariah law a danger to homeland security and gives the attorney general authority to investigate complaints and decide who’s practicing it….

“What do you mean, really, by saying I can’t abide by Shariah law?” he said. “Shariah law is telling me don’t steal. Do you want me to steal and rob a bank?”

The Attorney General’s Office had no comment.

A Muslim foot bath at Boston University, via WCVB.

A Muslim foot bath at Boston University, via WCVB. Looks very, um, dangerous.

Interestingly enough, though not surprising, the nefarious influence of “Muslim foot baths” have been a cause celebre for Republicans for years now. In 2007, the New York Times did a story on the University of Michigan-Dearborn installing foot baths in its bathrooms after the bathrooms were beginning to suffer damage from water collecting on the floor as a result of Muslim students doing the best they could to wash before prayer in a traditional sink.  There were subsequent controversies over such foot baths in colleges in Boston and Ohio, among other places.  Concern has also been raised about foot baths at Indianapolis’ airport.

They say this is the way Hitler started, with foot baths.

Here’s more from a very concerned far-right GOP Christian activist in the New York Daily News in 2008:

But this seems not to matter to those who want to thrust Islamic practices into the public sphere or to the politically correct officials who refuse to draw the line.

Foot-washing done in public places, whether in sinks or footbaths, sets Muslims apart from larger society. Rather than facilitating that, we should ask members of the American Muslim community to adapt their behavior to the country in which they live.

I do get a chuckle out of the same people who think America should live under biblical Sharia suddenly get oh-so-concerned about “thrusting” religions when the religion that’s thrusting isn’t their own.

Even GOP presidential candidates have been weighing in on the issue, with Mike “Supposedly the nice one” Huckabee saying, about then-new Muslim foot baths at the University of Michigan:

“the accommodation we’re making to one religion at the expense of others is very un-American.”

At the expense of others?  Really?  Yeah, poor Huckabee has a condition where every time he sees a Muslim he can no longer pee.  It’s like being pee-shy, but it’s called pee-shariah.

Then again, Tennessee has a long history of tolerating hate.  The GOP lieutenant governor a few years back called Islam a cult, and suggested that religious freedom may not count for Muslims.  And clearly some Tennesseans agree, as they torched a Mosque a few years back.  In the rest of America, we call that a hate crime. It’s Tennessee it’s called Saturday night.

We’ve got a huge index, sadly, of stories about Tennessee and it’s hateful backward ways.  Do scroll thru.  A few of the greatest hits:

Well, at least the story has a happy ending.  The administrators of the capitol building in Nashville have assured GOP lawmakers that the Muslim foot bath is in reality a “mop sink.”  Though, after checking out the photo, I’d be more concerned about some backward Tennessee lawmaker using the thing as a urinal.

Stephen Colbert recently did a broadcast about creeping shariah mops:

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And here’s a real news broadcast about the controversy, with more images of the foot baths.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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40 Responses to “TN GOP outraged over “Muslim foot baths” in state capitol – otherwise known as “sinks””

  1. sinbadsailor says:

    That’s because it is a Muslim footbath. The staffers lied. When have you ever seen a “mop sink” or utility sink that looks like that? And why else do you think they added a safety buffer along the side? These Muslim footbaths are being installed as a routine matter to pander to Muslims.

  2. sinbadsailor says:

    In fact, it is a Muslim footbath. The staffers lied. When have you ever seen a “mop sink” or utility sink that looks like that? And why else do you think they added a safety buffer along the side? These Muslim footbaths are being installed as a routine matter to pander to Muslims.

  3. gfd6754 says:

    Regardless of the cleverly edited news we see around us, including this page, there is no truth more evident than that of the Holy Bible. If one truly pays attention, they see explicit descriptions of human behavior, society, and the clever undoing of moral decency. We are seeing a major turning point today. There are many fools in the world who follow whole heartedly. They see this evil as good. The truth tellers get their words and meaning twisted in the news for the sake of duping the ignorant youth of today. So many heads a spinning. A fag is still a fag. A muslim is still an enemy of non-muslims. And it doesn’t matter what picture you paint and choose to represent the truth. The truth represents itself long before now. Nothing has changed but the foolish minds of many.

  4. mike31c says:

    So by now these idiots have been told the truth.. Do they STILL believe it’s a foot bath?

  5. silas1898 says:

    Almost every day, I think they can’t get any more stupid. And then …… we get this story.

  6. RepubAnon says:

    Sue it for copyright infringement? The output of colonic irrigation bears a striking resemblance to most Tea Party speeches.

  7. RepubAnon says:

    Precisely – Christian religious bigots warning others about the dangers of other religious bigots seems at best hypocritical.

  8. RepubAnon says:

    Religious fanatics routinely use violence or the threat of violence to establish dominance over others – it doesn’t much matter whether the fanatics in question are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhists. The problem isn’t Sharia law – the problem is religious fanatics.

  9. RepubAnon says:

    I call them “Kristians” – they sell fake crab meat under the name “Krab(r)”, and these various religious groups that claim to worship Christ while opposing Christ’s core teachings of toleration and peace are merely cheap imitations of real Christians… Kristians seems as good a name as any. Jimmy Carter: Christian. Pat Robertson: Kristian. (Racist Kristians are KKKristians.)

  10. Naja pallida says:

    The Tealiban, if you will.

  11. KT Kacer says:

    For that matter was there a low bench close where they might sit when washing their feet? GOPers are so scared of their shadows they can hardly go outside on sunny days! “Ackk! what’s that? it’s one of those Taliban head scarf things! Shiria! Help!” “Bob, that’s the table cloth for the picnic, we’ll put it on the picnic table at the park.” “Help! there’s that Muslim symbol on the tvs! Shiria has overtaken our tvs!” “Bob, that’s the Energystar logo, dear. It means that it uses less energy, that’s all, and that logo isn’t even close to a Muslim symbol, the moon part is abstract and curved the wrong way, the star is not solid, and it’s too big. Just… go try to relax dear.” Bob looks around nervously and heads for the living room.

  12. karmanot says:


  13. KT Kacer says:

    Yeah, I’ve taken to referring to these ‘brand’ of Christians as “the Christian Taliban”
    If it acts like a Taliban and thinks like a Taliban… even if it doesn’t look exactly like a Taliban, it must BE a Taliban!

  14. KT Kacer says:

    Intolerance, stupidity and paranoia… yup good ol’ fashioned GOP staples!

  15. Joe Downey says:

    Eagle Rights Correct or is that Equal Rights LOL

  16. Joe Downey says:

    or Liberal Gays and Muslims OH MY

  17. pappyvet says:

    snort…guffaw…massive teary eyed wheezing … falling down cackling accompanied by uncontrollable farting

  18. samizdat says:

    Well, at least the comments section of the Tennesseean has shown that there are many in Tennessee who haven’t lost their minds to blind hatred and delusional religiosity.

  19. RepubAnon says:

    Yeah, I’ve had a few arguments where I asked why a Real American would believe that some English King’s version of the Bible should be accepted as the literal word of god. (It’s also amusing to point out the translation errors in, say, foreign-built electronic device manuals and ask whether the English translation of the various Latin translations of the Greek translations of what some scribe wrote down based on what some tribe’s legends of what God had told one of their illiterate ancestors was word-for-word accurate. It’s also fun to point out that if God used centralized planning rather than evolution, God is obviously a Communist rather than a free market proponent.)

    Personally, I’m convinced that the ultra-Christians are actually worshipping the Anti-Christ. After all, wasn’t the Anti-Christ supposed to use lies, trickery, and deceit to bring disrepute to Christianity? Surely preaching hatred and intolerance in the name of Christ would be right up Satan’s alley…

  20. Badgerite says:

    Of all the things that I might object to with respect to Sharia Law, clean feet isn’t one of them.

  21. Jafafa Hots says:

    Not only that, they’re passing laws right here in the US that will consider a fertilized egg to be a human being and force women to give birth to even their rapist’s babies.

    oh wait…

  22. Papa Bear says:

    The tube in the photo looks like it’d go purty far up into your innards…

  23. karmanot says:

    It would have to be supplied with an inner tube.

  24. karmanot says:

    Well, he does have a narrow stance, maybe that explains it.

  25. karmanot says:


  26. HolyMoly says:

    What’s funny is it didn’t dawn on these lawmakers to think about exactly where they found these “foot baths.” Were they in a shower/dressing room? Were they in the bathroom? The lobby? Uh, no…they’re in the freaking janitor’s closet! Not exactly the best place to install a foot bath, you know.

    I think maybe the janitor left the cap off the bottle of floor stripper, and these numbskulls inhaled the vapors.

    As for the proposed bill to make it up to a 15-year sentence for following sharia law? I just HOPE it gets passed, and that someone will be tried (and appeals it to a 21st-century federal court). It seems these knuckle-draggers didn’t learn a lesson the last time they held their state up for worldwide ridicule (the Scopes “monkey” trial ring any bells?). Maybe Mike Huckabee could be the star prosecutor. Wouldn’t it be fun to put him on the stand as an “expert” on sharia law?

  27. A_nonymoose says:

    It gets worse — I didn’t think it was possible, but it gets worse — now the teabaggers are wanting to do away with direct election of senators.

  28. dmhlt_66 says:

    Biting my tongue: I will NOT mock Tennessee Republicans about being confused over indoor plumbing … I will NOT mock Tennessee Republicans about being confused over indoor plumbing … I will NOT mock Tennessee Republicans about being confused over indoor plumbing …

  29. looks normal to me says:

    It’s where you fill or drain the mop bucket itself, which usually has the integrated wringer attached.

  30. BeccaM says:

    True, but there’s a big difference between the imposition of an extra-judicial system that usurps the power of lawful government…and these nutjobs looking to outlaw something that doesn’t even exist here in America, for no other reason than to express their overt religious bigotry.

  31. BeccaM says:

    As near as I can tell, the rest of us are being forced to live under Christian Sharia Law. Consider:

    – Only Christian holidays qualify as paid federally-mandated days off, when even banks and post offices are closed.
    – The entire country is subject to Christmas for nearly two months of every year.
    – Fundamentalist Christians demand that only their definition of marriage is allowed.
    – They have decided that it’s morally wrong to use contraceptives or have an abortion, so unbelievers are supposed to accept that, too.
    – We still see debates between science and Christianity-based creationism, as if the latter is deserving to be taken seriously at all. In fact, believing the Earth is only about 6000 years old isn’t considered an automatic disqualification for high elected office.
    – Our elected officials are, almost universally, sworn into office using a Christian religious book.
    – Legislatures have Christian chaplains open their sessions, often with overtly Christian prayers.
    – When was the last time you heard a President or other high elected official end a speech with anything other than “And God bless these United States of America”? Right, never.

  32. nicho says:

    Far be it from me to even appear to endorse right-wing nutbaggery, but Shariah law has posed and is posed problems in some non-Muslim countries with large Muslim populations. Chris may know about France, but I know there have been problems in Spain. Imams in Barcelona have set up their own Shariah courts outside the country’s legal system and actually try, convict, and punish people.

    In Barcelona, Muslim women are routinely sentenced to be beaten for not shrouding themselves sufficiently. In one case, a mid-teen boy was sentenced to be beaten for the “crime” of playing a game of pickup soccer with non-Muslim boys.

    In the most extreme case I’ve heard of, a woman was sentenced to death and was saved by Spanish police when they raided the farmhouse where she was being held in preparation for her execuction. Other people are simply spirited off to a Muslim country to be dealt with there.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Install a ‘wide-stance’ privacy stall. ;-)

  34. Phil says:

    I wonder what they’d do if they thought it was for colonic irrigation….

  35. 2patricius2 says:

    Good old Mikey Huckabee. It’s okay for him to impose his religious belief on everyone else, but not okay to accommodate members of another religion in a public bathroom.

  36. Sulayman says:

    “Sets Muslims apart from larger society” is a lousy excuse that can be used to justify almost anything. e.g. Hey Jews! You should move your prayers to Sunday otherwise you stand out!

  37. A_nonymoose says:

    Consider yourself lucky if you don’t have to live here like I do; I’m hoping to retire to Blue America (if there is any left) in a few years.

  38. theophrastvs says:

    not to excuse any hateful hatred of religions of hate, but that doesn’t really look like the most efficient mop sink (no integrated wringer?!?) so i’m going to go ahead and assume it’s a baptismal font.

  39. Indigo says:

    I’ve never lived under sharia but I was born and raised under the Bibebelt and trapped under it as long as I live in this country. It’s a disgrace!

  40. karmanot says:

    What next? Bird baths? Are migratory birds allowed to use them? Capistrano swallows are obviously Christian because they roost in Missions, but how do we know other birds aren’t terrorists like vultures or buzzards. I say only American eagles are allowed to use birdbaths!

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