Muslims to March on Amazon Over Prayer Breaks
Amazon may have issued a “declaration of support” in January for a lawsuit against President Trump’s order to put a temporary halt to immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, but that hasn’t stopped outraged Muslims from planning a May 1 demonstration at the front door of the company’s headquarters in Seattle.
The Service Employees International Union and three Muslim guards who work for Security Industry Specialists, the security contractor Amazon uses to guard its facility, accuse SIS, and by implication Amazon, of refusing to allow the guards space to pray five times daily, even though members of other religions are granted the privilege of using prayer rooms.
Essag Hassan, a former SIS guard at Amazon, said he was let go because of his request to be allowed to pray on his work break.
“I was fired and not given a reason why,” Hassan said. “I’m speaking out for all Muslim security workers and for workers of any religion. When you ask for a space to pray on your work break, that request should be treated with respect.”
The SEIU told PJM “a strongly worded letter” from the “Seattle faith community” would be delivered to Amazon during the rally planned outside the company’s headquarters.
“Unlike other companies in locations with large Muslim populations, Amazon has not supported Muslim service workers requesting space to pray during their law-mandated work breaks,” the SEIU email to PJM said.
“Despite granting the high-earning tech workers conference rooms to pray in, there appears to be a double standard for the contracted security officers who protect the tech giant,” the SEIU email concluded.
The May 1 rally won’t be the first time SEIU and former SIS guards who are Muslim have knocked at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ front door.
The South Seattle Emerald reported in February “hundreds of devout Muslims, clergy, labor unionists” and even some Amazon workers took part in a prayer rally to demonstrate against SIS policy regarding prayer rooms.
“There’s been issues regarding religious prayers, [with some not being] given a space to practice,” Ismahan Ismail, a security specialist at Amazon, told the South Seattle Emerald. “When I did speak up, I was actually retaliated against. I had someone step on my prayer items.”
However, another guard took the microphone at the February rally and made it clear that the problem is not with any of Amazon’s corporate policies.