Justice Dept. Sues School for Not Letting Muslim Teacher go to Mecca

Justice Dept. Sues School for Not Letting Muslim Teacher go to Mecca

December 16th, 2010

FoxNews.com

The  federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district  Monday for  denying a Muslim middle school teacher unpaid leave to make a  pilgrimage  to Mecca that is a central part of her religion.

In a civil rights case, the department said  the school district in  Berkeley, Ill., denied the request of Safoorah  Khan on grounds that her  requested leave was unrelated to her  professional duties and was not  set forth in the contract between the  school district and the teachers  union. In doing so the school district  violated the Civil Rights Act of  1964 by failing to reasonably  accommodate her religious practices, the  government said.

Khan wanted to perform the Hajj, the  pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi  Arabia which every adult Muslim is supposed  to make at least once in a  lifetime if they are physically and  financially able to. Millions go  each year.

Khan started as a middle school teacher for Berkeley School District 87 — about 15 miles west of Chicago — in   2007. In 2008, she asked for almost three weeks of unpaid leave to   perform the Hajj. After the district twice denied her request, Khan   wrote the board that “based on her religious beliefs, she could not   justify delaying performing hajj,” and resigned shortly thereafter,   according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago.
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