French summer camp workers sacked over Ramazan fast

Muslim residents walk past racial slurs painted on the walls of a mosque in the town of Saint-Etienne, central France, Feb 8, 2010. — Photo by AP

PARIS: France's main Muslim body on Tuesday angrily condemned a town council's decision to sack four summer camp workers for fasting during Ramazan as “arbitrary and discriminatory.”

The four workers, who had been employed temporarily by the town of Genevilliers in the Paris suburbs to help run a sports camp in southwestern France, were dismissed on July 20, the first day of Ramazan, after being told they were endangering children's safety by not eating or drinking between dawn and dusk.

They are now planning to contest their dismissal through France's labour courts and the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said Tuesday it was considering suing Genevilliers council for discrimination.

In a statement, the Communist mayor of Genevilliers defended the decision to suspend the employees on health and safety grounds after an official who visited the camp noticed that they were not eating or drinking at lunchtime.

“They did not respect the terms of their contract in a way that could have endangered the physical safety of the children they were responsible for,” the statement said.

“This lack of nourishment and hydration could have resulted in these employees not being in full possession of the means required to ensure activities at the camp were correctly and safely run, as well as the physical safety of the children in their charge.”

Nicole Varet, an aide to the mayor, said the decision to dismiss the four employees had been influenced by an incident three years ago in which a fasting camp worker had been taken ill whilst driving, resulting in an accident in which a child was seriously injured.

But Mohand Yanat, a lawyer representing the four sacked workers, told AFP the safety argument was a smokescreen for anti-Muslim prejudice.

“How can you judge the capacity of someone to do their job on the basis of their religious practice?” he asked.

Abdallah Zekri, a spokesman for the CFCM, echoed his remarks. “Religious freedom is a fundamental right and you cannot in any circumstances ban someone from practising their religion,” he said.

One of the four workers, who was only prepared to be identified by his first name, Samir, said he hoped the action they are planning to take over the “unfair and unacceptable” treatment they had received would make life easier for other Muslims.

“We are thinking about going to court to get clear answers to our questions,” he told AFP. “Do people have the right not to eat during the day? Are doctors who observe Ramazan putting their patients lives in danger.”

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

LARGE_RECTANGLE_BOTTOM - /1029551/Dawn_ASA_Unit_670x280

Comments (32) Closed

Jul 31, 2012 01:56pm
the french always find an issue to do with muslims, what exactly is their problem with Islam?
Jul 31, 2012 01:34pm
Muslims have been fasting for over 1400 years during Ramadan months. Perhaps the person who took ill 3 years ago had an underlying medical condition. Do perfectly healthy people who do not fast not get sick. It should be decided on a case by case basis. How different is this French behavior any different from the Taliban.
dhiraj garg
Aug 01, 2012 11:42am
turkey, indonesia, mauritius are not islamic country !!!
Jul 31, 2012 04:00pm
Do the camp organizers literally check every person working for them to make sure they have had their breakfast or lunch? I highly doubt so. This is a case of clear prejudice.
Canadian Gru
Jul 31, 2012 04:41pm
Like Hijab Ramzan fasting should be banned for those who are in workplaces.
truth bites
Jul 31, 2012 04:53pm
secular extermists
Jul 31, 2012 05:17pm
Not eating during the day seems OK to me - this generally only causes a bit of irritability and short tempered-ness but not likely to cause issues. However, being in charge of children and not drinking at all during the day in the heat of the French summer is simply irresponsible. The children's well being must come first and if my child was at that camp and I found out later about this and it was allowed to continue, I would sue the organizers for child endangerment. My child's health is way more important than anyone's religion.
Jul 31, 2012 05:46pm
Unbelieveable story. France will be France.
Jul 31, 2012 07:13pm
Why not leave France and go back to where they came from!
Jul 31, 2012 11:42pm
people are afraid from islam give one example of islamic countries where minorities are living in peace...! everywhere intolerence, violence, force conversion...!
Aug 01, 2012 12:07am
When these European come to Dubai the Arabs treat them as angles came down from heaven! Look how they treating Muslims.
Aug 01, 2012 01:16am
This is just the tip of an iceberg, more to come, get ready
Sadruddin Mitha
Aug 01, 2012 03:56am
Allah says HE never wants any hardship for mankind, just apply your intellect God has given and take decsions, we Ismailis do not fast for the simple reason it is not feasible in today's world, so we apply human intellect to arrive at a decision to keep the sanctitiy of the month and at the same time, do not let this affect our life.
Aug 01, 2012 05:06am
Sorry brother but Muslims do fast and there is noting 'un-intellect' about it. What you said is exactly correct...Allah never wants hardship for mankind, so what He has prescribed for us is, no doubt difficult but not hard. It is doable and does not endanger a normal healthy person. In fact I think fasting was much more difficult for an average person back in the day than it is now. People in the West make a big deal out of fasting, 1 billion people fast every year, don't think they are all 'un-intellect' individuals.
Aug 01, 2012 07:07am
Aug 01, 2012 07:09am
The consequences of not having fasts are even more hardships.
Aug 01, 2012 07:22am
They brought them to france after world war 2, to rebuild. Most of the kids are born in france, this is their country
Aug 01, 2012 07:27am
Turkey, indoneasia, Malaysia, Maratius, Morocco to name a few.
Aug 01, 2012 07:28am
fasting for a month does not make any one any better, does it?
Shakeel Khan
Aug 01, 2012 08:14am
Then while in France do as the French do....
Shakeel Khan
Aug 01, 2012 08:18am
Or the workers were slackers and did not perform well. They were fired the first day of Ramadhan...
Shakeel Khan
Aug 01, 2012 08:20am
Bhook Arthal does not. THe true essense of Ramadhan is to delvelop tollerance and control. Control over hunger, emotions, passions etc. Ramadhan has lost its meaning to just not eating which is not. If we learned more tollerance we would not be in the position we are ......
Ahmed Jan
Aug 01, 2012 09:33am
This is not the News about. Read again
Ahmed Jan
Aug 01, 2012 09:37am
Drinking alcohol is far dangerous than keeping a fast viz a viz Health & Safety concerns. Interestingly this will go unnoticed.
Aug 18, 2012 03:34pm
The young men's duty to the care of the children comes before their right to fast. if they want to fast, then they cannot perform their duties.
Fawad Sayed
Aug 02, 2012 03:15am
Most of them are 2nd and third generation french muslims, they were born and raised in France, it is their country like any other French. Religious freedom is their fundamental right, guaranteed by their French constitution and they are practicing that constitutional right. What is it that u don't understand? Their constitutional rights are being violated. Got it?
Aug 02, 2012 04:45am
Islam come as stranger and will return as stranger. The fact that Islam has been around in this world since the time of Adam. Islam is for everyone - Islam is for all. It doesnt belong to any nation, race or tribes.
Aug 02, 2012 04:55am
Hence drinking alcohol is not allowed during working hours.
Sarwar Naqvi
Aug 02, 2012 06:17am
It certainly DOES. It cleans your system and keeps you from eating trash every day and all day long. It teaches people to eat wisely so that after Ramazan, people do think about improving their diet.
Aug 02, 2012 06:18am
iran? Be a yazdi, sunni or a zoroashtrian and talk
Abdullah Khan
Aug 02, 2012 09:01am
Prophet Muhammad said, that these christians and jews know me as they know their children. Means they know that He (PBUH) is the true messenger of Allah, and the law (Quran) He (PBUH) brought is the perfect path and truth. Only Allah knows that what human being is capable of. So you all naive people know that He doesn't put any burden on anyone beyond his capacity. And you all know it. Don't you? Look inside yourself, you all know what is truth and what is false, but you are somehow riding on Allah's mercy. You all are thinking that everything is going good for you so you might be right. But remember that Allah says, that this world in my eyes is not even equal to the wing of a mosquto, otherwise i wouldn't have given a drop of water to the non-believers. So guys do whatever you like in your powers, but ACHTUNG remember yumu-deen, Yumul Qiamah, Yumul Akhera...that is the JUDGEMENT DAY...
Fawad Sayed
Aug 04, 2012 03:18am
Pakistan, atleast none of them are pulled down from buses, I'd checked and killed in coif blood. When was the last time u heard any ones places of worship bombed or any of them beheaded and videos posted online?