Muslims

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Earlier this week a civil lawsuit was filed against JBS USA and two officials at their meatpacking plant in Greeley. The suit alleges that a former employee, 37-year-old Kacem Andalib, faced racial and religious discrimination from his coworkers and that the company failed to intervene or prevent it.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

El-Mekki Idris brought a tray to our table with two fragrant dishes on it. “This is koushouri, and the other one is fool sandwich,” he explains.

Koushouri is a popular rice, pasta and lentil dish from North Africa. It’s topped with tomato sauce and fried onions. Fool, another popular regional dish, consists of mashed fava beans and spices. At Sudan Cafe, Idris serves it as a sandwich on a soft, home-baked roll.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

The bell signals the start of second period. A trio of young women take seats in English class, their attention quickly drifting outside the walls of the high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, eager to talk about what they’re working toward.

“I want to become an FBI [agent],” says freshman Mariam Mohammed. “It’s my dream.”

On her left, her sister, Mutaas Mohammed, with a clay-colored hijab wrapped around her face and dark purple lipstick, says she wants to study fashion design. The girls’ friend, Isra Mohamud, a senior this year, chimes in: She’s looking at a nursing program at the local community college.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

The sometimes tense conversation about religious accommodation in the workplace is playing out in rural Colorado.

In Fort Morgan, 150 Muslim workers were fired in late 2015 after a dispute over prayer breaks at a Cargill meat packing plant.

Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

After firing 150 workers from its Fort Morgan meatpacking plant, executives with Cargill’s beef division say they are open to rehiring some of those employees. The company announced this change to its rehire policy — shortening the amount of time to be eligible to reapply for jobs after termination from 6 months to 30 days — following a dispute regarding prayer accommodations.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

A federal lawsuit that alleges Greeley-based meatpacking company JBS USA engaged in wide-scale discrimination against Muslim employees is heading to trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer denied the company’s request for summary judgment in a case that stems back to 2008 when the company’s Greeley beef plant fired Somali Muslim employees who were requesting breaks be scheduled to coincide with prayer time during Ramadan, a month of the Islamic calendar that requires daytime fasting and prayer.

Poncie Rutsch / KUNC

The air at Rumi's House of Kabob, a middle-eastern restaurant in Greeley, is filled with the smells of roasting kabobs, sweet garlic, and warm pita. In the kitchen, you'll find Moein Shafie preparing salads and drizzling olive oil on hummus, while the chef roasts the meat and makes the rice.

It's not too different a scene than what you'll find in any restaurant, except that Moein and his sister Laya – who also works at Rumi's – are operating on empty stomachs. Both are working in the midst of Ramadan, a month of fasting, self-control and reflection observed by millions of Muslims the world over.

Fasting while they work in the restaurant is very different from fasting in Iran, where the two siblings grew up.

“Even if you didn’t fast, you weren’t allowed to eat in common areas of the school in front of other people,” explains Moein. “It’s like that in all public areas. You’re not allowed to get on the bus and have a sandwich in your hand. It’s a respect thing.”

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

Once a regular dining option, a mix of cultural and economic factors pushed lamb off the American dinner table. To put the meat back on the menu, ranchers and retailers are being encouraged to reach out to a more diverse set of consumers, specifically American Muslims and Latinos.

Colorado is one of the top states in the country for lamb production and those sheep ranchers, feedlot owners, and processors are banking on America becoming a more diverse place. Without more Muslim and Latino communities embracing local lamb, the industry fears this niche meat could slip even further off the dinner plate, or be completely usurped by foreign producers like Australia or New Zealand.

Yusor Abu-Salha was one of the young students killed in Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C.

She and her former third-grade teacher, Mussarut Jabeen, spoke to StoryCorps in May. In fact, all three victims in the shooting — Abu-Salha, 21, her husband, Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 — attended the Al-Iman School in Raleigh, N.C., where Jabeen taught.

Jabeen returned to StoryCorps Wednesday to talk about that 2014 conversation with Abu-Salha.

There's a new film screening on American college campuses this spring that's sparking lively debate among Muslim students. Unmosqued depicts a younger generation of American Muslims drifting away from Islam, and it argues that mosques bear the blame.

Recently several hundred people gathered at the Webb Foundation to celebrate Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The foundation is named after an early American convert to Islam. There's no dome, minaret or even a building. It's known for service projects, good Sunday schools and father-daughter camping trips.

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