UK: Supermarket staff can opt out on alcohol

MUSLIM supermarket checkout staff who refuse to sell alcohol are being allowed to opt out of handling customers' bottles and cans of drink. Islamic workers at Sainsbury's who object to alcohol on religious grounds are told to raise their hands when encountering any drink at their till so that a colleague can temporarily take their place or scan items for them. Other staff have refused to work stacking shelves with wine, beer and spirits and have been found alternative roles in the company. Sainsbury's said this weekend it was keen to accommodate the religious beliefs of all staff but some Islamic scholars condemned the practice, saying Muslims who refused to sell alcohol were reneging on their agreements with the store. Islam states that Muslims should not consume alcohol, but opinion is divided on whether it is permissible to be involved in the sale of it. Mustapha, a Muslim checkout worker at the company's store in Swiss Cottage, northwest London, interrupts his work to ensure that he does not have to sell or handle alcohol. Each time a bottle or can of alcohol comes along the conveyor belt in front of him, Mustapha either swaps places discreetly with a neighbouring attendant or raises his hand so that another member of staff can come over and pass the offending items in front of the scanner before he resumes work. Some of the staff delegated to handle the drink for Mustapha are themselves obviously Muslim, including women in hijab head coverings. However, a staff member at the store told a reporter that two other employees had asked to be given alternative duties after objecting to stacking drinks shelves. Mustapha told one customer: "I can't sell the alcohol because of my religion. It is Ramadan at the moment." His customers did not appear to have any objection to his polite refusal to work with alcohol. One said: "I have no issues with it at all, it really doesn't bother me." However, some senior Muslims were less approving. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, director of the Muslim Institute and leader of the Muslim parliament, said: "This is some kind of overenthusiasm. One expects professional behaviour from people working in a professional capacity and this shows a lack of maturity. "Sainsbury's is being very good, they are trying to accommodate the wishes of their employees and we commend that. The fault lies with the employee who is exploiting and misusing their goodwill. It makes no difference if it is only happening over Ramadan." Ibrahim Mogra, chairman of the inter-faith committee of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said: "Muslim employees should look at the allowances within Muslim law to enable them to be better operating employees and not be seen as rather difficult to cater for." A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's, confirming Mustapha's stance, said: "At the application stage we ask the relevant questions regarding any issues about handling different products and where we can we will try and accommodate any requirements people have, but it depends on the needs of the particular store."
Source: Times Online (English), h/t Nieuw Religieus Peil (Dutch)


Fatso said...

Here we go again, bending over backwards for Islam yet again!

What about all those Muslim run corner shops in the UK, most sell alcohol, are they refusing to sell the stuff?

What happens when the Pork Chops or Sausages come down the conveyor belt, do they refuse to touch it because it's pork?

Why stop at Muslims. Hindhus are vegatarians and revere cows a sacred. Many own shops and work in the food trade. Will they be able to refuse to handle beef at the check outs?

Then we have the Jews, are they forbidden to touch pork?

This whole thing about appeasing Islam is becoming a farce now. The courts in the UK have consistently refused to protect Christian rights in the UK, example the BA worker and her small cross and numerous cases involving Christians wanting Sundays off, the courts have never protected these rights.

But of course the religion of peace might get upset and turn to violence so yet again we give into them!

Shame on you Sainsburys. Shame on you!

Anonymous said...

This is yet again political correctness gone mad.Where will all this bring us to?rom

Anonymous said...

I think Sainsbury's are being nice - but how long will they keep this up? If I object to pornography, I would avoid working in a porn shop. I think the academic quoted has it right: this is over-enthusiasm on the part of some people

Anonymous said...

Absolutely ridiculous, I tell you if someone refused to scan a bottle of wine I may wish to purchase, I wouldn't just stand there and be all polite, I would kick up a fuss since that person is not respecting ME!!! Respecting my way of life and so forth.

Anonymous said...

Proposterous. I get really angry whenever I hear anything about religion. This is going too far, if I wnated to abide by islamic laws, I would move to a muslim country! without wanting to sound disrespectful although it may, Muslims (who are concerned in this case), get over yourselves or move elsewhere. Agggghhhh, I could swear and be extremly rude but shall try and keep a hold on things.