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Moroccan airline bans employee prayer

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    Moroccan airline bans prayer time By Richard Hamilton BBC News, Rabat 6 November 2006 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6120324.stm The airline is a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2006
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      Moroccan airline bans prayer time
      By Richard Hamilton
      BBC News, Rabat
      6 November 2006

      The airline is a source of prestige for Morocco
      Morocco's state airline Royal Air Maroc has banned its staff praying
      at their offices and headquarters.

      The company says that in the past its workers have abused the
      privilege of praying, by taking too much time away from their desks
      and their customers.

      But the airline's workers as well as Islamist politicians say it is
      part of a crackdown on their religious freedom.

      Praying is one of the five pillars of Islam and regarded as a crucial
      part of a Muslim's way of life.

      The state airline, partly owned by the Moroccan royal family, is a
      great source of pride and prestige in the country.

      But this latest move threatens to exacerbate divisions in Morocco.

      Workers say that they have been banned from praying at work and that a
      number of prayer rooms have been closed and that they are forbidden
      from going to the mosque during work hours.

      The company would not give an interview but issued a statement saying
      that while there is no official ban on praying, they had to do
      something to stop people taking lengthy breaks away from work.

      But critics say the issue of praying, like the veil, is part of a more
      sinister move to rob the country of its Islamic roots.


      "I feel very angry about this decision," says Moustapha Aramid from
      the Islamic Party for Justice and Development.

      "Moroccans have had their liberty and their religious freedom taken
      away from them. It is very damaging. Royal Air Morocco obviously has
      absolutely no respect for Islam."

      Analysts say the ban on prayers is really a political move aimed at
      stamping out radical Islamism.

      When an alleged terrorist cell - Ansar el-Mehdi - was broken up
      earlier this year - two of the suspects charged were the wives of two
      Royal Air Morocco pilots.

      There is a feeling that the company had to do something to respond.

      Other complaints from airline staff are that pilots and stewards were
      not allowed to fast during the month of Ramadan and that female staff
      are not allowed to wear the veil - although that has been an unwritten
      rule at many companies for several years.

      These issues are becoming a focal point for some very hard questions
      being asked of this moderate Arabic country - something that is
      causing serious friction between liberals and traditionalists.

      Have your say at:

      You can also express your concerns to Royal Air Maroc at the Montreal
      office by phoning 1 800 361 7508

      Your silence means you support the move, so it's your choice.



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