A lawnmower manufacturing plant in Brillion, Wisconsin has banned its Muslim employees from taking the two 5 minute breaks necessary to fulfill the designated prayer times of their religion. Why, you might ask? Well, apparently it’s cutting into their “busy productivity schedule”, or so the Daily Mail newspaper would have you believe, a long-running British publication renowned for its inflammatory rhetoric against the Anglo-American Muslim community.
The company, coincidentally but aptly called “Ariens”, reportedly handed out unemployment forms to all of its 70 Muslim employees upon announcing the new policy, preparing them for what would come if they choose not to abide by the new rules.
The employees, under the old policy, were allowed to take what the company considered “unscheduled 5 minute breaks” in order to pray, but for whatever reason they have all of a sudden decided that now it’s a problem that is potentially worth firing 70 members of their staff to solve.
Company President and CEO Dan Ariens released the following statement regarding the policy change:
“We are asking employees to pray during scheduled breaks in designated prayer rooms. Our manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production.”
However, what seems to go over the head of Ariens, who is most likely not a Muslim himself, and even more likely to know next to nothing about the religion of 1.6 billion people globally, is that these “unscheduled breaks” are one of the Five Pillars of Islam, known as Salah in Arabic and under other names in other languages. In other words, they are central to the lives and identities of all practicing Muslims at their very core in some capacity or another.
Apparently making a simple accommodation for those workers though, who are participating in “their” company’s “manufacturing environment”–disregarding that all 70 of those employees are also a crucial part of that “environment” as well–perhaps that’s just not good enough for Ariens’ own dogmatic ethic of increased efficiency, making sure his employees are always “hard at work” when they need to be without wasting too much time. Never mind that to practicing Muslims the Salah is anything but a waste. Apparently this doesn’t seem to strike Ariens though as a dogmatic imposition of his own values on his employees, who are free to practice their religion in the United States of America without worrying whether or not that religion will obstruct their ability to earn a living.
But I digress. Perhaps the shamefulness of this “new policy” can best be summarized by Ariens worker Adan Hurr, who stated the following in The Daily Mail:
“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. Allow me to pray so that I can go back to work and do what I love to do, which is working for Ariens. But we are not allowed to do that. Yesterday what happened was just a travesty.”