11 January 2016
The inclusion of three prayer rooms in a new $1.4 billion sporting stadium has been welcomed by Australian Muslims who say the move will help them feel part of society.
Perth's new stadium, which is being built in inner-city Burswood, will feature three prayer rooms with washing facilities, a shoe rack and bookshelf.
Australian New Muslims Association president Said Kanawati has commended the West Australian Government's decision to include prayer rooms in the new stadium.
He said most Muslims planned their days around prayer sessions but even with the most carefully laid plans it did not always work out.
"For example, I went to the Big Bash [cricket] the other day [at Sydney Showgrounds] and I thought about how I was going to do my sunset prayer," Mr Kanawati told Daily Mail Australia.
"But I managed to leave the stadium and find a small park to pray and come back."
Mr Kanawait said the inclusions would make Muslim Australians feel part of the community.
"When these things are considered you feel part of society as a whole. The most important thing in this day and age is for people who are both Muslim and non-Muslims to feel included.
"This one thing alone will not stop radicalisation but it is just one of the many things that will help stop it."
Former Ethnic Communities Council president Suresh Rajan agreed, adding the AFL season usually coincided with Ramadan when Muslims were required to pray five times a day.
Mr Rajan said it was important to make Muslim youths feel like they were a "valuable part of the mainstream community" if radicalisation was to stop.
The decision to install the prayer rooms came after the AFL requested all football venues to have "a private, clean room" in 2012 so sporting event attendees had an area to pay their respects.
Richmond Tigers player Bachar Houli, who is of Muslim faith, had asked for the facilities to become available.
At Perth's current main sporting venue, Domain Stadium, an office space has been set aside as a prayer room for fans and a second room is used by players.
It is reprted by The West Australian the general public room had been used "a handful of times" since it was established, and the player room had only been used by Houli.
Acting Sports Minister Colin Holt said the interfaith prayer rooms were included in the new stadium's design as the multicultural landscape of Western Australia was changing.
"As part of the specifications provided to the three short-listed respondents in August 2013, the State Government mandated that the design must include at least two interfaith prayer rooms," he said.
"The design provided by the winning consortium, Westadium, successfully met the State’s requirements with the provision of three prayer rooms, one for fan use on Level 1 on the northern side of the stadium and a further two for athlete use, both located adjacent to the team changing facilities."
He said they added no extra cost because they were included within design specifications.
The designers of the project were Westadium.
Louise Cheer, "New $1.4 billion stadium to have three PRAYER rooms: Muslims believe it could help stop radicalisation in Australia, but former premier says they should 'watch sport, not pray'" Daily Mail January 11, 2016
Daniel Emerson, "Three prayer rooms for new stadium " The West Australian January 11, 2016