Kenyan born British academic, author and atheist Richard Dawkins has shared his thoughts on the Ariens manufacturing prayer time dispute on his Twitter feed.
Dozens of Muslims are outraged after the Wisconsin power plant changed its prayer policy and threatened to fire them if they took two five minute breaks daily in order to pray. Until the change, Muslim employees were allowed to leave the production line twice during a shift to pray. Now, the company want Muslim employees to pray during scheduled breaks as the “manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production”, according to a company representative.
The policy change affects 53 workers and while ten of those employees have indicated they wish to stay in their current positions under the new policy, the rest have either chosen to leave or are planning to.
However, is not in the Muslim tradition, however, to pray during meal times.
“If someone tells you, ‘You pray on your break,’ and the break time is not the prayer time? It will be impossible to pray.” – Green Bay Masjid Imam Hasan Abdi
Ibrahim Mehemmed claims he was handed an unemployment slip when he prayed during his usual time and fellow employee Adan Hurr was shocked by the company’s radical change in policy.
“I have been 35 years in America and I’ve never heard of a company that is not allowing its employees to pray five minutes. It is absolutely discrimination on its face,” he said.
A spokesperson for the company said that they met with Somalian employees in order to suit their needs and that they “put a considerable amount of effort into finding a solution that allows for employees of Muslim faith to pray during work hours.”
Dawkins’ thoughts on this issue were, as usual, straight to the point, when he Tweeted “If your religion prevents you from doing your job, you are free to either leave your job or leave your religion.”
Replies to his Tweet were varied, with some in agreement, others against.
@MichaelRWolfe said the “company (is) free to do what it likes. As are employees. That said, seems shortsighted to lose good employees over 10 mins a day.
Meanwhile, @Sir_JTyler thought that the company position was fair believes they had been ‘incredibly accommodating’, saying: “They offer a prayer room for goodness sake. Leave religion at home.”
Also agreeing with the change in policy was @pardeepbhogal1. “Everyone should be allowed to do what they want on their break (within reason) but to allow extra time for prayer is absurd”, he Tweeted.
However, @dan_i_e_l was critical of Dawkins’ position, Tweeting: “Really, fire them over two five minute breaks/ day? Are the smokers also fired? What about the employees using the bathroom?”