“Mohamed Rage.” That’s the man’s name.
Anyway, this is the next battleground in America. We have already seen rumbles of this elsewhere. American companies, as is clear from this story, will have to change the way they operate in major ways in order to accommodate Muslim prayer times, or Muslims will have to find work that doesn’t disrupt production lines. Which one do you think it will be?
From AP (thanks to all who sent this in):
OMAHA, Neb. “” Supervisors at a meatpacking plant have fired or harassed dozens of Somali Muslim employees for trying to pray at sunset, violating civil rights laws, the workers and their advocates say.
The five- to 10-minute prayer, known as the maghrib, must be done within a 45-minute window around sunset, according to Muslim rules. The workers at the Swift & Co. plant in Grand Island say they quit, were fired or were verbally and physically harassed over the issue.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has drafted a complaint to be filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The petition compiles testimony from at least 44 workers who had planned to sign the complaint during a meeting Sunday. The signing was changed to a later date because of a logistical problem.
Jama Mohamed, 28, said he was fired in June for leaving a production line to pray. Supervisors would not allow him a break, he said.
“Some of them took the (prayer) mat from me; they started shouting, they started telling me to stop it, and one of them grabbed me by the collar of my shirt,” Mohamed said through an interpreter.
“I was crying at the time this was happening to me, and when I finished I told them while they were doing that I was in the middle of a prayer.”
Mohamed said he was then called to an office, where a supervisor fired him.
Mohamed Rage, chairman of the Omaha Somali-American Community Organization, said Swift had fired at least two dozen workers for praying since May.
Donald Selzer, an attorney for Greeley, Colo.-based Swift, said only three Somali workers were fired for reasons relating to the issue, and that it was for walking off the line without permission, not for praying.
Unscheduled breaks can force unplanned shutdowns of lines, Selzer said.
“That is a significant number of employees, and there is not much of a way to accommodate that consistent with keeping the production online,” he said.
The complaint reprises issues that boiled over in May, when 120 Somali workers abruptly quit for similar reasons. About 70 returned a week later, but union officials worried the issue would resurface through the late spring as sunset came later in the evening shift.