Sunday, March 25, 2007

Muslim Activists in the Land of Minnesota Nice

I had not heard about this, but, evidently, some Muslim cashiers are refusing to scan pork or pork products at the local Target stores in Minneapolis.

In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Qur'an that prohibits the handling of pork products.

Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.

My first job was as a cashier in a drug store. I was Southern Baptist (very Southern Baptist), but I didn't refuse to sell customers Playboy magazines or cigarettes just because those things offended parts of my religious beliefs. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have been fired had I refused to ring up certain items, requiring another person to ring up the item or the customer to do so (this was in the days before scanners). But, alas, those were also the days before religious sensitivity. Now, according to the article, offended Muslim clerks either get another clerk to scan the item or make the customer do it him/herself.

My thought is, if you don't want to sell the product, find a different job.

There are plenty of situations where people have had to make compromises between their religions and their jobs. That first job also required me to work Sundays (a real no-no at the time) once a month. Eventually, I quit because I didn't want to work in a place that interfered with my churchtime. Lots of other people make the same sorts of decisions all the time.

In modern society, however, more people are expecting the company (and the customer) to accommodate them. There's nothing wrong with reasonable accommodation, but when does reasonable become unreasonable?

I found the story about the Target employees through this column by Katherine Kersten in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Kersten connects the Target employees to the Minneapolis taxi drivers who won't transport people with alcohol to the "flying imams" who are suing U.S. Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission for discrimination.
The events here suggest a larger strategy: By piggy-backing on our civil rights laws, Islamist activists aim to equate airport security with racial bigotry and to move slowly toward a two-tier legal system. Intimidation is a crucial tool. The "flying imams" lawsuit ups the ante by indicating that passengers who alerted airport authorities will be included as defendants. Activists are also perfecting their skills at manipulating the media. After a "pray-in" at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., one credulous MSNBC anchor likened the flying imams to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
The comparison is misplaced: Omar Shahin, leader of the detained imams, has helped raise money for at least two charities later shut down for supporting terrorism. From 2000 to 2003, he headed the Islamic Center of Tucson, which terrorism expert Rita Katz described in the Washington Post as holding "basically the first cell of al Qaeda in the United States." CAIR has long been controversial for alleged terrorist ties, while the Chicago Tribune has described MAS as the American arm of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which "preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic."

I'm all for reasonable accommodation of religion. But if we really are a secular country, as many liberals claim, then someone needs to explain that to the next cashier who refuses to scan the bacon at the checkout lane.