There needs to be religious freedom

A big and busy international airport is an exciting place. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is a hub of immigrant employment, where cab drivers and restaurant workers are often among our newest arrivals.

So it's no surprise that the airport continues to be the public space where tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims are played out. Somehow, disputes have turned MSP into a religious battleground.

These problems are the culture-clashing tensions that are at the heart of the American experience. But with a difference: The volume on this dispute is turned way up because of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the continuing war in Iraq, a Muslim nation.

The latest issue concerns whether MSP officials should create a separate prayer room for devout Muslims who are passing through the airport. ... At the same time, there has been a long discussion about cases of Muslim cabbies who will not accept passengers who are visibly carrying alcohol. ...

But the larger issue is religious freedom. We cherish it and fight to defend it. ... Our public spaces must reflect this freedom by being accessible to all, exclusive to none.

The above editorial excerpt is from the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.