Faith and Work Collide in Minneapolis

March 27, 2007

Author: Stephanie Simon

Source: Los Angeles Times,0,5248745,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

MINNEAPOLIS — "GET OVER IT," urged the posting on an online bulletin board, "you are in America act like an American!!"

The anger was directed at Somalian immigrants who have roiled this city by declaring certain jobs offensive to their Muslim faith. Many Somalian cabdrivers — who dominate the airport taxi business — refuse to transport passengers carrying alcohol. Some Somalian cashiers will not handle pork products; instead, they've begun asking customers to scan their own bacon.

To the immigrants, it's a question of religious freedom — and protecting themselves from sin.

"This is not something we are choosing to do. It's part of our religion," said cabdriver King Osman, 37. "It's forbidden to carry drink. Forbidden!"

This attitude has outraged many longtime Minnesotans. The widespread response: This is America, and you're free to practice your faith. You're not free to inconvenience others because of those beliefs.