Islamic advocacy group conducts diversity workshop for Twin Cities employers

On August 4, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations  (CAIR-MN) hosted a workshop in St. Paul that brought together employers from a variety of industries to discuss issues of religious diversity in the workplace.  The workshop, whose primary audience was the managers of businesses that employ relatively large numbers of Muslim workers, was called “Positive Interactions.”With some 25 employers representing seven companies in attendance, “Positive Interactions” is the largest workplace training CAIR-MN has yet conducted.  Previously, the group has led a number of smaller, on-site sessions for individual businesses. According to Jessica Zikri, Communications Director for CAIR-MN, a workshop on this scale is unique among CAIR efforts nationwide.  Citing research by the Islamic Resource Group, a Twin Cities-based outreach organization, she said this is partly because “the Minnesota Muslim population is unique in that it has a larger concentration of blue collar workers in comparison to the national makeup-it has been estimated that 75% of the Muslims in Minnesota hold these types of jobs compared to a 50-50 split nationwide.” CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Zahra Aljabri added that the Minnesota Muslim community is also unusual for its large Somali population.  Part of the recent workshop was devoted to a presentation of cultural issues specific to that community, including common gestures and greetings, and the Somali system of assigning surnames. In addition to this segment, facilitators Ms. Aljabri and Taneeza Islam, CAIR-MN’s Civil Rights Director, presented an overview of Islam and Muslims, and the principle of the legal obligation of religious accommodation in the workplace. Continue Reading

Magers and Quinn Bookstore to celebrate 15th anniversary

At 15 years young, Magers and Quinn Booksellers may not be the Twin Cities’ oldest independent bookstore, but it has grown to become the largest. Having come of age in what has proven to be a turbulent decade and a half for booksellers worldwide, the store will take a moment this month to reflect on its past and contemplate its future. On Friday, August 28, this Uptown fixture will throw itself a “birthday party” to celebrate its evolution since the store was founded in 1994. Magers and Quinn’s anniversary party begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 28, and will include a 15% storewide discount to mark its 15 years. The store is located at 3038 Hennepin Avenue South in Uptown, near Calhoun Square. Magers and Quinn is a member of the Metro Independent Business Association.Like any good party, this anniversary event will include live music and refreshments (and is naturally open to the public). Continue Reading

Six imams’ case gets boost from judge’s ruling

A federal judge on July 24 issued a ruling in the ongoing lawsuit filed by six imams who claim they were falsely arrested on a U.S. Airways jet docked at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2006. Perhaps most significantly, the judge ruled that the law enforcement officials involved are not immune to litigation under a law designed to protect concerned citizens from retributive lawsuits when they report suspicious activity to authorities. (Text of decision here.)
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery ruled that the complaint set forth a cause of action. The complaint alleges that one FBI Special Agent and six Metropolitan Airports Commission police officers lacked probable cause in arresting the six imams, who proved to pose no threat to the plane from which they’d been removed, or its passengers. Continue Reading