GANGNEUNG: The Korea Tourism Group (KTO) has cancelled plans for a cell prayer room in Gangneung for tourists on the 2018 Winter Olympics after solid opposition by anti-Muslim campaigners, the metropolis tourism department’s chief urged Al Jazeera.
While correct zero.2 % of South Korea’s population of fifty a million is Muslim, the KTO decided to create a prayer room to promote a “Muslim-capable Korea” at some stage in the Winter Olympics, which commence on Friday and develop bigger the number of Muslim tourists.
But after “solid opposition” from some groups, metropolis officers in Gangneung cancelled the plans.
Gangneung metropolis authorities tourism division chief Kang Suk-ho urged Al Jazeera “We had solid opposition from some spiritual groups who antagonistic the set up and threatened protests at some stage in the Winter Olympics”.
“We sat down with them for talks, but in the pinnacle, we needed to raze the plans,” he added.
Kang additionally acknowledged he didn’t question “such an erroneous backlash from the neighborhood”.
“We conception it’d be fine to provide a prayer room facility on the Gangneung teach,” he explained, including that he conception the opposition to the idea changed into “very regrettable”.
Gangneung is space to host all indoor events.
Originate bigger in Muslim tourists
South Korea has witnessed an develop bigger in the number of Muslim tourists over the previous couple of years. In accordance to the KTO, a 33 % develop bigger changed into registered in 2016 when put next with the yr before, and the numbers reached 1.2 million by the pinnacle of 2017.
Tapping into this financial capacity, the country has increased the number of Halal certificates for its ingesting locations and prayer rooms, and the Seoul Tourism Group is promoting a collection of videos showcasing Muslim-capable ingesting locations spherical the capital.
A KTO press launch closing yr confirmed one of its objectives changed into that “the provision of race convenience would possibly perchance perhaps most likely additionally aloof be reinforced in whisper to develop bigger their pride and to support repeat visits”.
The Korean Muslim Federation (KMF) expressed its disappointment with the decision, including that the “Olympic Video games would possibly perchance perhaps most likely additionally aloof plod beyond a single nation, flee, culture, and religion to create harmonisation”.
“This decision demonstrates that we, as a host country, lack considerate working out,” Lee Ju-hwa, a KMF handbook, urged Al Jazeera in an announcement.
“As antagonistic to claiming that the set up of a prayer room is preferential remedy given to a definite religion, we prefer to settle awareness that it changed into to protect in solutions others with different religion and beliefs,” he added.
KTO’s Director of PR Kim Yeong-ju acknowledged it changed into supposed to be a multi-religion prayer room.
Alternatively, the opposition neighborhood, the Pyeongchang Olympics Gangwon Voters’ Islam Countermeasure Affiliation, launched its protests namely against Muslims who were coming for the Winter Olympics.
“If the room changed into for folk of all religions, why would they’ve an ablution station,” the organisation’s secretary Search engine optimization acknowledged.
“From what I heard from Egyptians, there are distinctive instances when Muslims don’t pray, shall we embrace when they’re on a airplane or driving. So the same would possibly perchance perhaps most likely additionally aloof be utilized at some stage in the Video games.
“The authorities has already spent too grand of the taxpayers’ money on the Video games, and we shouldn’t spend more constructing a prayer room.”
The organisation unruffled bigger than 56,000 signatures for an on-line petition that antagonistic the set up of the prayer room.
But for some Muslims households who are visiting South Korea for the Olympics, the decision to forgo the prayer room would possibly perchance perhaps most likely additionally space a harmful precedent.
“While it would possibly perchance well most likely were gargantuan to bear a praying facility on the Video games, the larger concern for us is how this would possibly perchance occasionally additionally space a precedent going ahead,” one Muslim spectator, who requested to now not be named, urged Al Jazeera.
“We’re going to provide our prayers in some nook or back at our resort; I correct hope the opposition realises what shrimp this would possibly perchance occasionally additionally create by now not having a prayer room save up,” the shopper acknowledged.