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Muslim workers ponder next steps in Nebraska prayer dispute

2008-09-21 17:12:13

Our Comments

This is a very unfortunate story, especially because as usual the media including CBC is making a bigger deal out of this and is selectively reporting what they like.

As some commentators have said, the reason the workers want to take a break, is so they can break their fast for the month of Ramadan as they are fasting all day without food and drink.  They aren't asking for extra break time either, simply just to have the time changed for the month of Ramadan.

Surely in democratic and multi-cultural societies, this is a reasonable request and at least in Canada is mandated by law.
It appears that any time Muslims request their rights or want to defend themselves against unfair treatment, the anti-Islamists still complain, and of course if Muslims are quiet about issues they are accused of being terrorists.

We've often commented on different stories and felt some Muslims were making unreasonable requests but we don't feel this is one of them.
Most of the posters have said everything imaginable from both sides.
It is unfortunate that the people who feel most passionate about these issues are clearly people who fear, hate and make it their duty to attack and demonize Muslims.

Let's be realistic here, as far as the article goes (and the things they left out), this is a group of Muslims simply asking to change the time of their break (not to ask for extra time off or extra breaks), so they can eat and drink after fasting all day.

In Canada a legal duty to reasonably accommodate religious practices and I don't see how this is unreasonable.

My hats are off to the educated and tolerant Canadians who can see through the motivation and comments of hateful posters who are staunchly against Muslims due to their religious views.

This is a general comment but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed that ever since 9/11 racists and hate groups have used 13 people belonging to a single religion, to demonize all Muslims and have extended their same "reasons" to increase hate against other races and religions.

There are clearly organized groups of racists and people who hate every color and religion other than their own, who use the news headlines to propagate hate against people. Whether it is a Chinese or Indian person who is guilty of a crime, they use the headlines as proof that "xyz" people or "xyz" religion is evil and a threat to our society.  Imagine, if the reverse happened, if everyone else ganged up against the racists and their plans to create friction between every race and religion.

It is a shame as usual that in part due to the media, that anti-Islamists will use this as another strike against Islam and all Muslims, regardless of the real story, or whether the company in question acted in appropriately.

This just seems like more proof that unfortunately anti-Islamism is alive and well and widely accepted in our society.

Full Article:

Muslim workers ponder next steps in Nebraska prayer dispute

Meatpacking company confirms 86 fired for taking unauthorized breaks

Last Updated: Saturday, September 20, 2008 | 9:13 PM ET Comments158Recommend64

Hundreds of Muslim workers involved in a dispute over prayer breaks at a Nebraska meat-packing plant are set to meet Sunday to decide what to do next.

Dozens of workers were fired during a week marked by protests at the JBS Swift & Co. plant over break times to allow Muslims to pray at sunset.

The plant employs about 2,500 people, not including managers. About a fifth of them — mostly of Somali background — are Muslim.

Mohamed Rage, who leads the Omaha Somali-American Community Organization, said Saturday that workers at the plant wanted to hold another protest, but that he urged them not to.

Instead, Rage said, all the Muslim workers — including those no longer with the company because of the dispute — will meet Sunday to talk about a resolution.

On Monday, hundreds of Muslim employees walked off the job, saying they weren't being allowed to take a break to pray during Ramadan. Break times were then altered on the second shift so that Muslims could make their fourth of five daily prayers at sunset.

Non-Muslim workers walk out in counter-protest

That sparked counter-protests by non-Muslim workers who walked off the job Wednesday and Thursday, complaining that the arrangement amounted to preferential treatment.

Later Thursday, plant managers did an about-face, saying the new break times weren't working.

Rage said 80 Muslim workers were thrown out of the plant after an altercation late Thursday. When they tried to return for their shift Friday, they were fired, along with 70 other workers, he said.

Dan Hoppes, president of Local 22 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, described events differently.

He said that according to management and employees, 60 to 80 people quit late Thursday after raising the prayer issue and creating a commotion.

Hoppes said supervisors had told the workers to go back to work or leave, and they left.

JBS Swift has confirmed 86 firings, saying the employees were terminated for repeatedly leaving work without authorization.

The company said in a statement Friday that it's working to resolve the issue.

"JBS values its diverse workforce and has a long track record of making significant accommodations to employees," the statement said. "We work closely with all employees and union representation to accommodate religious practices in a reasonable, safe and fair manner."



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