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Islam in America Part Eight: The Workplace


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Part Eight: The Workplace
By Kathy Shaidle

RightSideNews Copyright © 2009

Last month, the longtime owner of a Chicago Dunkin' Donuts was forced to give up his franchise. The owner claimed his Muslim faith forbade him from handling pork, making it impossible for him to serve Dunkin' Donuts breakfast sandwiches.

Dunkin' Donuts had willingly accommodated the owner's faith based restrictions over the course of their twenty-year partnership. But in 2002, the chain issued a sudden ultimatum: offer your customers every Dunkin' Donuts product -- or none at all. Seven years later, the fast food giant won the case, and the owner lost his store.

Increasingly, large companies like Swift, UPS and McDonald's have been sued by Muslim employees demanding the right to wear religious garb, pray on company time and refuse to handle pork. These expensive legal battles do more than just raise prices for customers and drain company coffers. Employee morale suffers (and with it, productivity) as workers view each other with suspicion and resentment.

The number of such cases accelerated in the 1990s, according to an exhaustive 2007 survey by Jeffery Breinholt at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. Historically, he explains, Arabs had been considered "Caucasian", but in 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court "established that Arabs were an ethnic minority for purposes of our federal anti-discrimination laws."

Brienholt notes that Muslim employment discrimination claims increased after the first World Trade Center attacks in 1993. He proposes two theories to explain why: the "Innocent Bystander" theory (Muslims felt distrusted and uncomfortable in American workplaces after both WTC attacks); and the "Political Islam" theory (Muslim activists are exploiting U.S. civil rights laws to push an extremist agenda).

He believes the "Political Islam" theory is the correct one, and that many Muslims are engaged in a non-violent campaign to spread extreme Islam through American workplaces as a sort of "stealth jihad" (to use scholar Robert Spencer's expression for the phenomenon.)

In one extraordinary case, the Saudi government tried to force a pilot working for an American company to convert to Islam if he wanted to keep flying over Saudi airspace!

In an exclusive interview with RightSideNews, Ann Corcoran of Refuge REsettlement Watch shared her insights about this phenomenon. Her group has been chronicling the spread of "workplace accommodation" for some time. Her comments reflect this expertise and are worth quoting at length.

"At some point," says Corcoran, "big businesses like meatpackers discovered they could keep wages low by using immigrant labor. During the Clinton Presidency, the State Department's Refugee Resettlement Program brought in over 100,000 Bosnian Muslims" who ended up working in Midwestern meatpacking plants.

"Somalis are the most obvious group demanding workplace accommodation," Corcoran points out.  "We have brought to the US over 80,000 Somali refugees in the last 25 years. The State Department has cut off all family reunification because they found through DNA testing that a very high percentage of Somalis lied to get into the US."

Corcoran points to well publicized disputes between Somali Muslim workers and meat packing plants in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and Greeley, Colorado.

In Grand Island, tensions led to interracial conflict. In 2008, "about 500 Swift workers, all Muslim and most Somali, walked off the job and marched a mile to Grand Island City Hall to protest for religious freedom," according to a news report.

"They wanted prayer time during the holy month of Ramadan.

"The plant's attempt to accommodate the requests led to counter protests staged by Caucasians, Hispanics, Vietnamese and African-Americans."

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, Somali Muslim employees were awarded $1.35-million for "discrimination" when a meat packing plant refused to let them pray during work hours.

Is this sort of civil unrest, resentment and disharmony among neighbors really worth the dubious monetary benefits of "cheap labor"?

Ann Corcoran wonders who is behind it all.

"Some one or some group is organizing the Somalis," she says. "There is no way on earth, they became that savvy in organizing without being taught the fine art of ‘community organizing' using the Saul Alinsky playbook. Is it a coincidence that in Greeley and Grand Island, well-educated, English-speaking Somalis, just happened to arrive in those towns and get hired by Swift & Co. in the weeks prior to the demonstrations and walkouts?"

Echoing observations by others that the late Saul Alinsky's radical theories have shaped the thinking of President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others currently weilding power in the political realm,  Corcoran explains that Alinsky, "taught that you must create chaos to bring about change. A good agitator eventually wears people down. They don't have to win this year or next, it's the wearing down process that will ultimately succeed if we don't counter it.   

"And, the Somalis are really good at it because they have an ‘in your face' personality and they are very very smart."

Corcoran warns that the Muslim holiday of Ramadan in August may see another upsurge in workplace demands and unrest, given the daunting requirements placed upon Muslims during that celebration, such as dawn to dusk fasting. In the U.K, some organizations have tried to impose Ramadan fasting rules on non-Muslim employees.

Lately, Muslim demands for workplace accommodation have met with increasing resistance, such as that seen in the Dunkin' Donuts case. Last autumn, Somali Muslim cab drivers serving the Minneapolis airport lost an appeal in their ongoing campaign for the right to accept passengers who were carrying alcohol. (The city's cab drivers have also caused controversy over refusals to accept blind passengers traveling with guide dogs.)

Ann Corcoran believes such developments demonstrate what can happen if non-Muslims vocalize their opposition to "stealth jihad" in the workplace.

"As for what people can do," she says, "when Tyson's dumped the Labor Day holiday at the chicken plant in Shelbyville in favor of giving the entire plant off for Eid last year, the publicity came out very negative and very quickly.  As a result hundreds of calls of complaint went into Tysons and the plan was modified---negative publicity is very important.  These big companies can be swayed by negative publicity."

Related: Islam in America Series by Kathy Shaidle and The Evils of Islamic Political Ideology by Alyssa Lappen
-------------------  Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury.com. Her new book, The Tyranny of Nice: How Canada crushes freedom in the name of human rights - and why it matters to Americans, features an introduction by Mark Steyn. Shaidle is also an advisor for the International Free Press Society

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