Bad publicity in the cybersphere paid off in an apology this week by one of Britain’s largest retailers for allowing some of its Muslim employees to refuse to sell alcohol or pork products because of their religion.
But some Muslim groups said the retail chain should be deferential to its employees’ beliefs, despite a Facebook campaign by outraged customers.
Marks and Spencer, a United Kingdom chain that sells clothing and groceries, caused a stir the weekend before Christmas when news reports revealed some Muslim employees at a London franchise had declined to serve customers trying to buy alcohol for seasonal celebrations.
In the statement released Monday, the company said the behavior at the London stores didn’t reflect the company’s policies.
“We would like to apologize for any resulting confusion and reassure our customers that this was an isolated incident,” the statement said.
Spokesmen for Muslim organizations told news outlets they thought the original decision to let the employees refuse to serve customers was fine. The whole thing though, was overblown, some said.
“As far as we understand the matter, this story has received far more attention than it deserves and is an isolated event,” said Salman Farsi, media officer of the East London Mosque Trust, according to FoxNews.com.
Farsi also argued, according to Fox, that the policy would also allow Jews to refuse to sell pork to Marks and Spencer customers.
“We respect Marks & Spencer as a retailer that allows its employees to observe their religious values,” Farsi said.
Here’s a news flash for Mr. Farsi: the only “values” that are relevant in a retail exchange are the value of the currency used by the buyer and the value of the (legal) product to the owner. An employee is an agent of the owner. His beliefs or no-beliefs are irrelevant.
Muslims who don’t wish to part of the sale of alcohol have every right in the Western world (and Israel) not to work at establishments that sell alcohol. Just as they have every right in the Western world (and Israel) not to sell pork, charge interest on loans or eat lunch during Ramadan. (Their “rights” in the Muslim world are irrelevant, since they usually depend on whichever gang happens to have the guns at the moment.)
What they don’t have the right to do is take a job from an employer in good faith, then refuse to perform the service involved. This is the kind of creeping Sharia that masks itself in appeals for tolerance to the liberal useful idiots of the West.
And Britain, for a change, called it out.