Community News (V12-I37)

Muhammad Ali’s Olympic Gold Celebrated

LOUISVILLE, KY–It has been half a century since boxing legend Muhammad Ali won his first Olympic medal in light heavy weight division at the age of eighteen. The big honor was marked at Ali Center. The crowds came out to mark the occasion, with special events and celebrations at the center.

After turning professional and changing his name to Muhammad Ali, the champ went on to become the first boxer to win the Heavyweight Championship three times.

Ali made a surprise appearance at the center and posed for pictures and greeted well-wishers.

Los Angeles Muslims distribute meals for homeless

LOS ANGELES, CA–Muslim organizations across North America are increasingly focusing their efforts in helping out the communities they live in. These activities heighten in the month of Ramadan and include activities as diverse as organizing free clinics, counseling, and free meals for the needy. The Los Angeles Muslim community, which has been a pioneer in these kinds of activities, is once again working tirelessly to erase hunger from the city.

Under the banner of the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity they recently distributed more than 3,000 meals in a single event.

The Muslim volunteers were joined by a host of interfaith activists from the Christian and Mormon communities as well as representatives from the LAPD.

According the the Annenberg Digital News the aims of the initiative were two fold: to serve those Los Angeles community members most in need and to improve the image of Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world.

“We are not terrorists, and in most cases we are being terrorized,” said Naim Shah, California Chair for Humanitarian Day, one of the sponsoring organizations. “This is a day for us to show the world who we really are; we are a people who not only believe in peace, but, as a part of our religion, practice peace.”

The increase in such charitable projects at home, however, has not diminished the community’s interest in helping overseas. Muslim communities across North America have raised and collected thousands of dollars and essential items for delivery to flood victims in Pakistan.

UC Irvine upholds suspension of Muslim student group

IRVINE, CA–The University of of California at Irvine has upheld the decision to suspend a Muslim student group.

After some of its members disrupted a speech by the Israeli ambassador at a campus event.

The university said Friday it will lift the Muslim Student Union’s suspension Dec. 31 instead of enforcing it for a full year. However, the group will be on probation for two years instead of 1 and members must complete 100 hours of community service.

Eleven students were arrested in February for disrupting Michael Oren’s speech, which prompted an investigation by the university.

Hadeer Soliman, the group’s interim vice president, says the punishment will affect hundreds of Muslims who regularly attend prayer meetings and socialize together.

EEOC: Meat, blood thrown at Muslim workers

GREELEY,CO–The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two lawsuits on August 31 in federal court alleging that JBS USA, LLC, which does business as meat packing company JBS Swift & Company, discriminated against a class of Somali and Muslim employees at its facilities in Greeley, Colo. (its headquarters facility), and Grand Island, Neb.

The suits allege that JBS Swift created a hostile work environment for its Somali and Muslim employees due to their race, national origin, and religion. The complaints allege that supervisors and coworkers threw blood, meat, and bones at the Muslim employees and called them offensive names. The complaint filed in Colorado alleges that there was offensive graffiti in the restrooms at the Greeley facility, EEOC v. JBS USA, LLC d/b/a JBS Swift & Company, 10-CV-02103 PAB-KUM (D. Colo.), which included comments such as “Somalis are disgusting” and “F..k Somalians”, “F–k Muslims, and “F–k Mohammed.” The suit filed in Nebraska alleges that supervisors and coworkers made comments to Somali employees at the Grand Island facility such as “lazy Somali” and “go back to your country.” EEOC v. JBS USA, LLC d/b/a JBS Swift & Company, 8:10-cv-00318-TDT (D. Neb.).

The two complaints include allegations that JBS Swift engaged in a pattern or practice of religious discrimination when it failed to reasonably accommodate its Muslim employees by refusing to allow them to pray according to their religious tenets. Both complaints further allege that JBS Swift retaliated against the employees by terminating their employment when they requested that their evening break be moved so that they could break their fast and pray at sundown during the month of Ramadan, an Islamic holiday requiring a daytime fast from sunup to sundown.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This litigation originated from the filing multiple charges of discrimination with the EEOC. During 2008, the EEOC received 83 discrimination charges from employees at the Greeley facility and 85 from employees at the Grand Isle facility alleging discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color or national origin. The charges of discrimination were jointly investigated by the EEOC, the Colorado Civil Rights Division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, and the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission.

“The issue of national origin and religious discrimination in the workplace has become more significant as more immigrants with different ethnic and religious backgrounds join our workforce,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. “The laws of this country prohibit harassment based on national origin, and mandate that employers accommodate employees’ religious practices so long as doing so does not create an undue burden on the employer.”


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