https://tanenbaum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TanenbaumLogos_CMYK-Long-Red-Copy-300x39.png 0 0 AdministratorTemp https://tanenbaum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TanenbaumLogos_CMYK-Long-Red-Copy-300x39.png AdministratorTemp2010-12-17 11:07:462012-12-21 08:12:11Muslim Teacher Denied Time-off for the Hajj: News Roundup
The Hajj to Mecca, the fifth pillar of Islam, is something “every adult Muslim is supposed to make at least once in a lifetime if they are physically and financially able to” (Associated Press).
Despite its importance to many Muslims around the world, making the Hajj wasn’t reason enough for an Illinois middle school to grant a Muslim employee three weeks of unpaid leave.
The Department of Justice is suing a suburban Chicago school district after it refused to give a Muslim middle school teacher unpaid leave when she wanted to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia during Ramadan (Proviso Herald).
Safoorah Khan requested leave in 2008 and was denied twice by the Berkeley school district’s Board of Education “because the purpose of her leave was not related to her professional duties nor was it leave for any of the specific purposes set forth in the Professional Negotiations Agreement between the district and the teachers’ union” (Park Forest E-News).
After being denied, Safoorah wrote to the board, saying that "based on her religious beliefs, she could not justify delaying performing Hajj” (International Business Times). She later resigned from her teaching position and filed a complaint with the EEOC.
Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, Thomas Perez said: "Employees should not have to choose between their religious practice and their livelihood. Federal law prohibits employers from treating employees and applicants less favorably because of their religion, and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for the religious beliefs and practices of their employees" (International Business Times).
This is the Department of Justice’s first suit in a “pilot project designed to ensure vigorous enforcement of Title VII against state and local governmental employers by enhancing cooperation between the EEOC and the Civil Rights Division” (Park Forest E-News).
They’re asking that Safoorah be given her job back and to adopt policies that accommodate employees’ religious practices and beliefs (Associated Press).
In other education news, a Sikh elementary school student in Michigan is being investigated for bringing a kirpan, a ceremonial dagger that many Sikhs wear at all times as part of their faith, to school. His fellow fourth graders saw the kirpan while they were all wrestling during recess, and thinking it was a weapon, told their teacher and parents.
As of now, the student hasn’t been suspended and is allowed to continue wearing his kirpan in school while the district seeks legal advice (Plymouth Patch).
To finish up, here’s an encouraging story out of Denmark. To introduce students to different faiths and encourage respect for religious diversity, a Danish school created a “multifaith playground” where kids can play in a small mosque, church and Hindu temple (WorldDawn.com).
Around the web:
- As Hanukkah closes, menorahs have flickered in surprising place: Iran (Christian Science Monitor)
- Poland, bastion of religion, sees rise in secularism (NYTimes)
- Hinduism is not cast in caste (Washington Post/On Faith)
- Tending to the spirit while doctors tend the body (St. Catharines Standard)
– Caity Goodman