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Dispute Over Prayer Leads To Firing Of Nearly 200 Muslims At Meat Plant

FORT MORGAN, Colo. (CBS4) - The Cargill meat plant in Fort Morgan has fired approximately 190 Muslim workers as the result of a dispute over prayer while on the job.

On Dec. 18 a group of 11 Somalis working in one particular area of the plant wanted to go pray at the same time. Their supervisor asked that they go in smaller numbers to keep production going. They went anyway, and that's when the trouble began.

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"It doesn't matter if I don't have a job, my religion is more important," fired worker Tony Aden told CBS4's Rick Sallinger.

News of the dispute led nearly 200 Somalis to not show up for work for three days in protest. Now fired by Cargill Meat Solutions, they are receiving help applying for unemployment compensation with the help of a fellow Somali, Qadar Ducaale, who is upset with the firings.

"It's got things to do with Donald Trump, it's got things to do with (Ben) Carson and all these guys who are rhetorically talking bad about Islam," said Ducaale, a school district employee.

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With some 190 Somalis now out of work in Fort Morgan it's threatening the economy of the African community in the heart of rural America.

Cargill insists it attempts to provide religious accommodations for all at its plant, including a prayer room. Many Somalis take issue with that.

LINK: Statement From Cargill Meat Solutions

"Five minutes, 10 minutes they give to me … they say no," a fired employee said.

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Now the Somalis out of work pass time idling away while the company looks for new hires in an attempt to replace them.

Company policy allows them to reapply for their jobs after three months, but CBS4 found out talks will take place next week to in attempt to shorten that waiting period and resolve the situation.

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