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US meat company fires 190 Muslims after they go on strike against ‘prayer ban’

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DENVER: Around 190 Muslims have reportedly been fired from a meat packing factory in Colorado, United States (US), after they walked out in protest against a ‘ban on prayers’ at work, according to leading British daily.

The staffers staged a mass walk-out nearly 10 days ago, with more than 200 Muslim workers, most of them from Somalia, participating in it. The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also supported their stance and negotiated with the company, Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan, on their behalf.

A few of the workers returned to work, but the majority were dismissed from their jobs, said CAIR spokesman Jaylani Hussein.

Workers accused the company of changing its rules on allowing staffers to offer prayers during shifts. Previously, a few staffers were able to pray at different times in the prayer room, so that the production process may not slow down.

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The 5-10 minutes prayer time was part of the 30-minute unpaid lunch break, the foreign daily reported.

Yet, Mr. Hussein tells that of late the ‘the company asked the workers to go home, if they wanted to pray’.

“They believe that missing their prayers is worse than losing their job”, he said of Cargill staffers. “To them, it is like losing a blessing from God.”

Cargill Meat Solutions, in a statement, said: “In its Fort Morgan plant, a reflection area for use by all employees to pray was established in April 2009, and is available during work shifts based on our ability to adequately staff a given work area.”

Another daily reported quoted the company saying that it sacked the employees after multiple attempts to discuss the situation with them.

Those who lost their jobs included the ones who had worked there for as much as 10 years.

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