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Muslim workers plan march on Amazon to demand space to pray 5 times a day

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Three Muslim security guards and their union are planning to march on Amazon.com for not providing a “space to pray” on break.

The guards, who work for Security Industry Specialists, the company contracted by Amazon to handle security, and the Service Employees International Union accused SIS, and Amazon, of not giving the employees space to pray five times a day, PJ Media reported.

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Former guard Essag Hassan said he was fired for requesting prayer time.

“I was fired and not given a reason why,” he 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 union said it planned to deliver a “strongly worded letter” to the retail giant during the May 1 march.

“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 union said in an email statement to PJ Media.

“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 statement read.

A similar display against Amazon was held in May when SEIU and “hundreds of devout Muslims, clergy, labor unionists” and some of the online retailer’s employees took part in a prayer rally against SIS’ prayer room policies, according to the South Seattle Emerald.

“There’s been issues regarding religious prayers, [with some not being] given a space to practice,” Amazon security specialist Ismahan Ismail, told the Emerald. “When I did speak up, I was actually retaliated against. I had someone step on my prayer items.”

But another Muslim guard disputed that account.

“I want to set the record straight,” guard Usama Baioumy said at the February rally. “Amazon provided us with a prayer room. … I pray in the room here. Amazon helped us by providing prayer rooms across the building.”

SIS CEO Tom Seltz suggested that the complaints are unfounded when he spoke to Think Progress about the current protest.

“Before prayer rooms were introduced, employees generally used a vacant conference room or quiet room, when available,” he said. “This has been the case for the past four years (since we’ve been at Amazon), and the recent addition of dedicated prayer rooms has just made access even easier.”

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Carmine Sabia


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