What is up with all these Somalis? How and why do these companies hire them? And where are the paranoid religious extremists who defended Kim Davis to defend these muslims as well?The 53 Muslims who walked off their Wisconsin factory jobs after a ban on extra prayer breaks are given ultimatum to return by Monday, as one worker claims some are using prayers to avoid work
- Muslim employees have walked off the job at Ariens, a lawn mower and snow blower factory, in Brillion, Wisconsin
- They feel company insulted their faith after it changed practices after it had allowed them to pray five times a day for five minutes at a time
- Ariens wants to force its Muslim employees to only pray during the two ten minute breaks allowed to all employees working eight hour shifts
- 'Let's say an assembly line has ten people on it, if two walk off the job, the other eight are standing there,' CEO Dan Ariens tells Daily Mail Online
- One worker feels as if he has been fired over religion but Ariens says staff have until January 25 to return if they accept limit on prayer breaks
- 'Nobody complained to us about our prayers. People take breaks to go to the bathroom and nobody says anything about that,' says an employee
- Longest serving Islamic worker at Ariens, Bashir Mahamed, claims some fellow Muslims are using prayers to avoid work
The businessman who refuses to allow his Muslim workers special prayer breaks claims he was forced to act in order to prevent a $1 million loss for the company each year.
Fifty three Muslim employees have walked off the job because they say their boss changed work practices on them which insulted their devout faith.
But Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO of Ariens, a company which makes lawn mowers and snow blowers, tells Daily Mail Online in an exclusive interview that he will refuse to allow the disgruntled employees back to work unless they accept his decision to ban extra prayer breaks.
Ariens, whose family set up the business more than 80 years ago, denies he was being insensitive to their religious needs and warns they may lose their jobs if they do not accept his terms.
He reveals 'other non Muslim workers' complained to him privately about the exceptional time given to the 53 Islamic staff to be able to meet their religious obligations during shifts.
'It just throws 800 people in disarray. Think of the unfairness. Everybody gets two ten minute breaks, but some additional 50 people are getting more breaks of maybe five or twenty minutes.'
But the banned Muslim workers hit back saying they had been technically forced out of their jobs and insulted by the company's management.
An Imam who leads prays at his Mosque with many of the workers said Ariens, if allowed, was setting a dangerous precedent which might lead businesses around the US to review the procedure of allowing Muslims time during work to pray.
Ariens employs 2,000 people including 800 at its Brillion, Wisconsin plant. The company wants to force its Muslim employees to only pray during the two ten minute breaks allowed to all employees working eight hour shifts.
But the 53 Muslims, mostly from Somalia and arrived at the plant last summer, say they cannot ignore the requirements of their religion which specifies the times that they must turn towards Mecca and prostrate to Allah.
They have to have clean bodies and carry out the prayers at daybreak, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening and each prayer lasts five minutes.
But Ariens says some prayer breaks took key workers away from production assembly lines for up to twenty minutes.
Ariens, speaking in the boardroom of the company's Wisconsin headquarters, said: 'We know those breaks aren't always (taking) five minutes for prayer because you can't physically walk to one end of the plant.
'It is 365,000 square feet so it may take you ten, fifteen and we know in some cases twenty minutes.
'If they were to stay with those five minute breaks, it would cost us about a million dollars per year.
'Let's say an assembly line has ten people on it, if two walk off the job, the other eight are standing there because they work in a sequence. It is impossible and it is not a free for all. We work as a team.'
He insists the resentful employees, who have walked out and have until January 25 to return to work or face losing their jobs, knew from the day they joined of the company's allotted break times.
'I am not a Muslim. I am not aware of the Muslim prayer times. I know that there is a faith. But I am not aware of the practice.
'But I do know that they were made aware of break times when they joined the company.'
Ariens, who is a Catholic, was asked why he wasn't aware that Muslims were required to pray five times a day.
He said: 'Do you know how many rosaries I do a day?'
One worker who walked out says he and his fellow Muslims are being forced to choose between work and faith.
Ibrahim Mehammed, 32, claims: 'They are not respecting our values and religion.
'The Koran says we have to pray five times a day and at what times this has to be done.
'These prayers are very important to us as we have to fully respect Allah and when they refuse us to pray at these times, we have no choice but to lose our jobs.
'Since most of us arrived in Brillion last summer, we have been treated very well and we get on with our non Muslim colleagues.
'They would step in for us when we went to pray and it was all OK. Nobody had any trouble at all until the company called us together last week and told us we couldn't pray anymore when we had to.
'It is crazy to ask us to pray out of the times that we have to. It wouldn't mean anything to us or to God.
'Now they have given us letters which tell us where to get help with unemployment. As far as I am concerned, I have been fired from my job over my religion.'
Mehammed, a father of a seven-year-old daughter, adds: 'I will be able to feed my child even if I have no job, with God's will.
'Since the day I was born, I have only known how I am going to live through God. That will never change.'
His colleague Dhar Mahed, 37, says: 'We are hard workers and we get on very well with everybody.
'Nobody complained to us about our prayers. People take breaks to go to the bathroom and nobody says anything about that. They can go as many times as they like.
'It is a shame that we are being put away from our jobs only because we are sincere and respectful Muslims and simply want to pray.'
The crisis began soon after the influx of Somalian Muslims last summer who found work at the bustling plant through an employment fair and applied online.
Up until then, the company says, there were only a handful of Muslim employees who left the production lines to pray.
But with more than 50 additional Muslims demanding time to pray during work time, the management said the position became extremely difficult and they were not expecting new staff to make such demands.
But Maidas Abdiqudir, 32, who wears a headscarf, tells Daily Mail Online: 'When I applied for the job, I told them during my interview that I would need to have time during my work to pray.
'I came with my family from Minnesota and we found an apartment and started a new life here.
'I wouldn't have done that if I had known that they would stop me doing the most important thing in my life.
'Everything else at work was great. The pay was fine and the people were good to us. Then they stopped us from praying when we have to and we have to lose our jobs.
'I love my job. If they allowed me to pray, I would go back to work.'
Assembly line workers at Ariens make $12.50 an hour - and many of the distraught Muslin workers say they have offered to 'punch in and punch out' on their attendance cards each time they leave their factory benches to pray and make up the time at the end of shifts, but the company says it would be unworkable.
Hano Badan, 42, says fellow workers had told her they did not want her to leave and hoped the Muslim workers could find a solution with the management.
'But the company wants us to leave. They are not listening to the fact that we have no choice but to pray when we have to. They should have listened to us when we took the job in the first place.'
One of the longest serving Islamic workers, however, claims some of his fellow Muslims were using the prayers as an excuse to avoid work.
Bashir Mahamed, 67, who has worked at Ariens for nearly ten years, says: 'There was no problem when there was just three or four of us.
'But when these large numbers came, I could see that the work was being affected.
'I know that some of the people were taking the time not to pray as they were not really practicing Muslims.
'But I am very happy with my job and I will carry on working there.'
His Imam Mohamed Abdelazim of the Appleton Mosque, however, disagrees with him and says the workers took time only to pray.
'They have to pray at the designated times. The prayers are called Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.
'If a Muslim does these prayers he is rewarded by God, but if he does them at times different from the Muslim calendar, then his rewards are less and less.
'They have to be on time. It is not good to try and tell these Muslim brothers and sisters to pray during their lunch breaks as these prayers will not be correct and acceptable.'
Another Imam Hassan Abdi of the Green Bays Mosque, claims: 'This company has changed its policy towards Muslims after employing them. We do not understand why.
'Most of these brothers and sisters worship at my mosque and I believe they are in this situation because their employer wants to get rid of its Muslim workers.
'The times to pray are in the Koran. They have to do it.
'If this company does this, other bosses around America could see this as an excuse to get rid of its employees. This is a dangerous situation for us in this country.'
But Ariens denies he is using the controversy over prayers as an excuse and says he is angered over claims on social media that his company's actions amounted to racism.
He says: 'They don't know us and they are baseless and wrong. They do not know us as a family business that has been here eighty years.
'We have all kind of diversity here in North East Wisconsin and we hire anybody who wants to come and work and be part of this family.
'We are not going to discriminate not hiring someone based on their faith. We don't do research to say that we shouldn't hire them because they are Somali or because they are Irish Catholics. That is discrimination.
'We are absolutely not discriminating because we are saying that we have seen they have relocated and looking for a job and we have a job open... let's see if we can put those two things together.'
He insists the latest batch of Muslim workers have been treated fairly and professionally.
'We put them through orientation and training. So these 53... we have invested in them and trained them. We have brought them some skills and they have become good manufacturers and we would like this not to cause them to voluntarily leave us and quit.'
He reveals if the 53 workers left their jobs, the replacements could be Muslims as long as they understood there were only two ten minute break times.
'I will feel bad if they leave. We are a business... we are not a non-profit business. We are as family and a team. No one is fired.'
The CEO refuses to disclose his company's profits or turnover or how he estimated $1 million would be lost per year if the prayers were allowed to continue when the workers wanted.
The company also has plants in Oxford, England and in Rygge, Norway.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that employers do not have to accommodate a religious practice if it causes 'undue hardship' to the company by decreasing 'workplace efficiency.'
The dispute has to be resolved by Sunday as that is the deadline Ariens has laid down for a return to work, otherwise the 53 will be deemed to have left their jobs on their own accord.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3408759/Outrage-Wisconsin-actory-CEO-tells-53-Muslim-employees-walked-job-accept-ban-extra-prayer-breaks-don-t-return-work-claiming-cost-company-1-million-year.html