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December 14, 2010

A New Civil Right: Three Weeks Off To Perform the Pilgrimmage To Mecca

Three weeks unpaid, which is a concession to reality, but still, three weeks is a long time go go missing from a job.

A teacher in Illinois put in the request, stating that based on her religious beliefs the trip could not be delayed, despite the fact that the religious command is to do the pilgrimage once in one's whole life. Request denied, she resigned, and is now suing under the Civil Rights Act.

Our government is suing the school district for failing to "reasonably accommodate" her religious beliefs.

From Wikipedia:

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special state in which Muslims live while on the pilgrimage.

Okay, let's talk about "reasonable." For one thing, the Hajj is five days long. Add in two days for travel time, and at most she'd need seven days to do this. Add in the weekend at one end and that means by taking five working days off she'd have nine full days to travel to and perform a five-day ritual. Sure, not much sight-seeing, and that's a tough schedule, but what she demands is the ability to perform a religious function -- how she adds on two weeks for sight-seeing is beyond me.

Next, because the timing of the Hajj varies due to the, um, fucked-up Islamic calendar that despite being the flower of a glorious civilization can't manage to account for all 365.25 days of the year. This means that in some years, the Hajj will naturally coincide with already-scheduled breaks in the school year. She couldn't wait for such a year?

Next, the religious stricture isn't as strict as she claims -- the demand is that pilgrimage be performed specifically if the party has the means to do so. She doesn't -- her job precludes her from doing this many years. So she's under no obligation to do this until she does have the means (time off from her job) to do so.

Her demands for time are/were exorbitant, and furthermore, she seems to be trying to cadge an extra three week vacation rather than waiting for the Hajj to line up with scheduled time off. Apparently fulfilling her religious duties to Allah doesn't mean she should have to give up her vacation-time to do so.

This case means a lot. If our own government is successful in this suit, it means that all Muslims now have the right to go to Hajj whenever they please, as a civil right, and employers can't say boo about it.

Thanks to Uncle Jefe.

Checking Dates: The Hajj falls frequently in or around our Thanksgiving holiday break, and I assume it also falls frequently around Christmas. In 2008, when she demanded the three weeks off, it either began or ended on December 12. In 2011, it began on Saturday November 26th. Which means had she waited until this coming year, she could have traveled to Mecca on Thanksgiving, had Friday to get her bearings and do a little sight-seeing, began her pilgimmage Saturday, and would have been done and home five days later -- needing only a much more reasonable five days off. Most likely the school district already grants some kind of one-week-off unpaid vacation (if not paid!).

But instead she made up a New Rule that Allah commanded her to have two weeks of sight-seeing in 2008, specifically, and now our government is suing to enforce Allah's new commandment.


Suspicious Timing... I can't help but notice that when she demanded her three weeks off, it seems to have fallen right in the middle of Thanksgiving break and Christmas break. I'm betting good money she planned to take off the entire month and a quarter between Thanksgiving and Christmas.


digg this
posted by Ace at 01:41 PM

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