Muslims Face Discrimination

July 30, 2000

Source: Star Tribune

On July 30, 2000, the Star Tribune reported that some Muslims have lost their jobs, in an article entitled "At work, Religion and Policy Collide; Several Muslims, Who are Also Somali, Have Been Fired or Disciplined Because Policies Posed a Conflict with Their Religion." Even after he explained its importance to his faith, "Abdirisak Jama's supervisors gave him a choice: Shave your beard or don't return to work...He was wearing the beard...when he was hired as a security guard for Burns Security International in Bloomington. He loved his job and needed the money. But Muslim and believes that shaving his beard is a sin. In November, he lost his job." He says that he was loyal, never late or absent. They said, "Comply with the policy." He is one of several Muslims, who also are Somali, who have recently been fired or disciplined. Company officials say that while they respect all religious principles, they must execute company policies, make production schedules and take safety precautions." There have been several such cases recently in Minnesota. "Among them, about 30 employees walked off their jobs in May in a protest over prayer breaks at Advantek Inc. in Minnetonka. When they returned to work, they were suspended for three days." Another woman from Minneapolis says "she was fired from her job at LSG/Sky Chef Inc., a Bloomington company that prepares airline food, after refusing to wear uniform pants," and "another Minneapolis woman was fired from her U.S. Postal Service job when she refused to stop wearing her traditional clothing."

"'It's frustrating,' said Hanif Carleton Crutchfield, a St. Paul lawyer and president of the Minnesota Chapter of CAIR. 'These are not the principles of religious freedom. Unless people fight for their rights, they are going to be stuck. That's why I'm working hard on these issues.' Crutchfield said the increase in complaints about religious workplace discrimination coincide with the increase in the Muslim population, which has been driven by an influx of Somalis. Estimates of Minnesota's Muslim community range from 45,000 to 60,000, of which an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 are Somalis living in the Twin Cities area."