Republican lawmakers in Tennessee sprung to action and demanded answers after confusing a mop sink recently installed in the state Capitol for a Muslim foot-washing sink.
Members of the state House and Senate contacted state Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey to ask if the floor-level sink had been installed outside the House chamber men’s restroom to accommodate Muslims’ ritual of washing their feet before prayer, according to The Associated Press.
“There was concern about why it had been modified,” Humphrey said.
Republican state Sen. Bill Ketron confirmed that he had taken this issue up with Humphrey after state Rep. Judd Matheny (R) became troubled that the sink could be for Muslims.
“I just asked the question about what was the intent of that,” Ketron explained.
Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley assured the lawmakers in an email that “the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use.”
“It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink,” Ridley said.
Ketron told the AP that the explanation “satisfied my curiosity after it was presented to me.”
In 2011, hundreds of Muslims showed up at the Capitol to protest after Ketron and Matheny sponsored a bill that would have made following Sharia code a felony.
“Tennessee, like the federal government, has a compelling state interest to protect our citizens from jihad terrorism,” Matheny said at the time.
That measure would have criminalized Muslim foot-washing rituals and dietary restrictions.
The bill eventually passed after all references to any specific religion were removed.
Watch this video of Ketron speaking about the anti-Muslim bill in 2011.
[Editor's note: This headline originally said, "Tennessee lawmakers outraged that mop sink could be for Muslim foot washing."]