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Social Justice Council supports Muslim's right to pray at work

A statement backed by the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council and the Dean of St Mary's Cathedral, Monsignor Tony Doherty, urges employers to be "open-minded and flexible" in response to requests to allow Muslim workers to pray during working hours.

The statement, which is also signed by a range of other Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, follows threats by Sydney IT company TPG to sack a Muslim worker for a 10 minute break he took for prayers. If attempts to mediate that case fail today, the union representing the worker - 19-year-old Kamal El-Masri - may seek a hearing before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. TPG initially refused to allow Mr El-Masri to take a break outside a set 12-1pm lunch time. But on Friday it offered to take part in conciliation involving a representative of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

"Australia is a vibrant and diverse community based on principles of justice," the religious leaders said. "We support the right of people to observe their religious faiths in the workplace where doing so does not impinge on their ability to carry out their duties.

"Therefore, we respect the right of Muslim workers to take a few minutes to pray in accordance with their religious beliefs."

NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson said it was heartening religious leaders were "standing beside the union movement on this important issue".

The statement is signed by: Dr Peter Jensen, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney; Monsignor Tony Doherty, Dean of St Marys Cathedral Sydney; Suzette Clark, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council; Rev Harry Herbert, Uniting Church; Rabbi Jeffrey B. Kamins; Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio; Rabbi Richard G Lampert; Rabbi Allison H Conyer; and his Eminence, Mufti of Australia, Taj Aldin Alhilali.

Daily Telegraph

Worker relies on God to settle dispute (SMH 11/10/02)
All work, no pray makes Kamal an angry employee (SMH 10/10/02)
A question of Faith (Today Tonight, Channel 7)
Union movement supports ASU member Kamal El Masri (Australian Services Union)
Muslim faces sack over prayer (BBC 11/10/02)

14 Oct 2002