A prayer room that was supposed to be used by Muslims at the Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea was scrapped after South Korean citizens protested.
The mobile prayer room was too be set up and paid for by The Korea Tourism Organization, in cooperation with Olympic officials. Taxpayer money would have paid for the prayer room, but locals were upset that their money was to be used to accommodate what they believe was a radical, violent religion.
Officials behind the prayer room insist it was to be open to all faiths, but in most instances of public prayer rooms, that usually is not the case. In those cases, Muslims who use the prayer room are not accommodating to other faiths.
That was one of the reasons an anti-Muslim group rallied the public against the prayer room, gathering enough signatures to get it shut down.
The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has announced that it will no longer go forward with plans to set up a mobile multi-faith prayer room for spectators in Gangneung, where all of the Games’ indoor events are taking place, following “strong opposition” from anti-Muslim protestors, according to Al Jazeera’s Haeyoon Kim and Faras Ghani.
“We sat down with them for talks, but in the end, we had to cancel the plans,” Gangneung city government tourism division chief Kang Suk-ho told Al Jazeera.
The KTO’s Kim Yeong-ju told Korea Exposé’s Ho Kyeong Jang that opposition to the prayer rooms was so strong that local officials “could no longer do their jobs.”
Much of the hostility has flowed from the PyeongChang Olympics Gangwon Citizens’ Islam Countermeasure Association, a relatively new group that pushed a petition against the prayer room via Google. The petition — which stoked fear about radical Islam in the South Korean province of Gangwon — has collected more than 56,000 digital signatures.
“The government has already spent too much of the taxpayers’ money on the Games, and we shouldn’t spend more building a prayer room,” Seo Ji-hyun, the director of operations at the Islam Countermeasure Association, told Al Jazeera. He also suggested that Muslims should refrain from prayer at the Olympic Games as they supposedly would while flying or driving.