Muslim employees at Wisconsin manufacturer say company changed policy concerning prayer

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Workers at one Wisconsin manufacturing company say they're angry, after the business changed its policy regarding prayer time at work.

Dozens of Muslim employees at Ariens say they are now out of a job after the policy was changed.

The Brillion, Wisconsin based company changed the policy Thursday, affecting 53 workers. Until then, Muslim employees could leave the production line twice a shift to pray.

But Ariens is now asking employees to pray during scheduled company break times, saying a manufacturing environment does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production.

Some Muslims at the plant say the break times given aren't the scheduled Muslim prayer times, and the employees say the company's unwillingness to accommodate them is discrimination.

"If someone tells you, 'You pray on your break,' and the break time is not the prayer time? It will be impossible to pray,” Imam Hasan Abdi, from the Green Bay Masjid, said.

"We pray by the time. So they say, 'If you guys don't pray at the break time,' they give us this paper to just leave,” Ibrahim Mehemmed, a former Ariens employee, said.

Adan Hurr, who says his wife was fire from Ariens, said, "If they got fired now, there's no way they'll get to stay in Green Bay. They'll have to move."

According to Muslim beliefs, the five prayer times a day are obligatory and are performed essentially by the position of the sun in the sky.

On Saturday, the council on American-Islamic relations (CAIR) called on Ariens to allow Muslim workers to pray at work using the previous policy until the dispute is resolved.

Ariens' products include snow blowers and lawn mowers.