O’REILLY: “Personal story” segment tonight, more accommodations requested for American Muslims. The Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR, wants a meat packing plant in Nebraska to give Muslim workers time to pray around sundown. The plan says that would interrupt the assembly line.
Joining us now from Chicago, Ahmed Rehab, head of CAIR’s office in the Windy City.
OK, you know, more and more of these stories are surfacing now. And I’m wondering why they weren’t surfacing 10 years ago when we had American Muslims then. Now we have foot washes in some public universities. We have people — cabdrivers who don’t want to carry people with wine. Now we have a meat packing plant that the Muslim workers want, you know, time to pray around sundown. The plant says, hey, that’s in the middle of your shift. You know, we can’t make an accommodation. If we could, we would. But I didn’t hear about any of this stuff 10 years ago. Why am I hearing about it now?
REHAB: I think you’re framing and contextualizing this issue inappropriately. It has no connection to any other case. It is its own case. And the case is simple. It is the failure of a corporation to provide the necessary and appropriate reasonable accommodation, religious accommodation for workers in the work place, pursuant to Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, pure and simple.
O’REILLY: What does that say, the Civil Rights Act?
REHAB: What that says is if a worker were to request religious accommodation that is reasonable, they should be provided with that accommodation by the corporation or the entity for which they work. That’s precisely what is happening here.
O’REILLY: If I say to my corporation, look, it’s a holy day of obligation. We have in the Catholic Church a number of those. You’ve got to let me go to mass during the workday, they’re — they’ve got to let me go to mass?
REHAB: No, it depends. The law says as long as it does not provide any undue burden on the workplace, which I think makes a lot of sense.
O’REILLY: OK. But that’s what this meat packing plant, Swift and Company says it does. That they can’t interrupt their shift to let these guys go out and pray. How long would they have to pray, by the way?
REHAB: Well, they pray for only 2-4 minutes. It’s not a long time. But here is where the corporation is making a logical fallacy in its argument. What you just told is that they have told you that it will disrupt the assembly line to go out and pray.
REHAB: What is happening is that they are already allowed to have bathroom breaks for about 10 minutes during their shift, for 15 minutes. And it is during that time that these individuals attempt to engage in prayer, if they’re already outside of the assembly line.
O’REILLY: So you’re saying that they — the Muslim guys are saying, look, I have to go to the bathroom and then they pray and then they go quickly.
REHAB: So they’re already off the assembly line.
O’REILLY: I can’t get in the middle of that, because I don’t know. I’m not out there.
But look, you dodged my first question. And I don’t think you did it in a mean way. But I want to go back to it.
I didn’t hear about any of these controversies 10 years ago when American Muslims were working in the system. I didn’t hear about the foot palace, and I didn’t hear about the cab drivers, and I didn’t hear about the meat packing guys. I didn’t hear about it.
So I’m saying to myself this is an uptick in American Muslims demanding their rights? Am I wrong?
REHAB: You are wrong, because there are many confounding factors that you have to look at. One is that there were no organizations or organized efforts to help those with complaints back then that could have surfaced this information to news agencies.
O’REILLY: But you’re making my point for me. Now that you have your organization and there are others…
REHAB: That is one factor, not the only factor. Another factor is that perhaps those weren’t large enough in number. Maybe they weren’t aware of their rights…
O’REILLY: The numbers are pretty steady. It’s 0.05 percent of the population now, and it’s always been in that realm. There are a few more but not many more. Not a lot of American Muslims compared to the population.
The final thing is, do you understand the backlash against this, Mr. Rehab? Even if you’re correct, and it doesn’t sounds like you’re taking a lunatic position, I have to be — I have to say, it sounds like you could probably work this out with the company. If I were in charge of the company…
REHAB: And in order to do that — we’re to do that right now.
O’REILLY: … you could work it out with me. I’d work it out. But there’s a backlash. I mean, people don’t want the foot washes. They don’t want the cab driver saying you can’t get in if you have a bottle of wine. Do you understand that?
REHAB: Here’s what I understand. If this complaint was such that these individuals were requesting some kind of unreasonable accommodation, I’d be the first to stand up and say it’s not appropriate. But it is very reasonable. And I take it as a case by case basis.
O’REILLY: Some of the others — I don’t think the foot baths being paid for by the taxpayers is reasonable. And I don’t think the cabdrivers is reasonable.
REHAB: That’s arguable. That’s — I’ll grant you that.
O’REILLY: Everything is arguable. That’s why we do the program. Mr. Rehab…
REHAB: This is not. In the case — in the case of these Somali individuals, it’s not arguable.
O’REILLY: I think they should work it out. Mr. Rehab, thanks for coming on.