Monday, July 23, 2007

Somali meatpacking workers complain of religious harassment

(Waridaad) - By Oskar GarciaMonday, July 23, 2007

Omaha, Neb (AP) - Tension at sunset came to a head at a Grand Island, Nebraska meatpacking plant in June, when Jama Mohamed said his desire for 10 minutes to pray was met with shouting.

After he left the production line and began praying, Mohamed said, supervisors took his prayer mat, pulled him up by his collar and sent him crying to a lead supervisor, who fired him.

"I told him, 'Look, I know I am in America and I know in America there is a freedom of religion for everybody to practice their religion. ... And as long as you fulfill that -- as long as you let me pray -- I will always work for you,"' Mohamed, 28, said Thursday through an interpreter.

"And he said, 'No, that's not acceptable -- your prayers are not acceptable here. You're here to work, not pray."'

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has drafted a complaint to federal officials that is awaiting the signatures of dozens of Muslim Somali workers who allege they were fired or harassed by supervisors at a Grand Island meatpacking plant for trying to pray at sunset.,2933,290324,00.html

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