Professor's anti-Muslim comments 'dangerous' - Islamic Women's Council

The Islamic Women's Council says remarks from a Waikato University professor discouraging employers from hiring Muslims are both "disappointing" and "dangerous".

Dr Raymond Richards, an American history and religion professor, came under fire after making a comment on Facebook suggesting hiring of Muslims was a poor move because of their prayer schedule.

Anjum Rahman, spokeswoman for the council, told The AM Show that assertion is totally wrong.

"We're living in a world where it's hard for Muslim women to get employment - we know they face high levels of discrimination," she said on Tuesday.

"It's putting out misleading information; they're not stopping five times a day at work to pray. It's unlikely that they'll be stopping more than two times."

The defence of Muslim prayer in the workplace comes after Dr Richards was spotted taking aim at it on social media last week.

"Who needs employees if they stop work five times per day to talk to an imaginary being?" he wrote, alongside a picture of a man wearing a Sikh turban.

Ms Rahman says while Dr Richards is "free to say what he likes", she again reiterated that while Muslims do pray five times a day, only two of them are likely to fall within a standard eight-hour shift.

She added that many Muslims would only spend about 10 minutes praying in each session, which she says can quite effortlessly be incorporated into a lunch or afternoon tea break.

"It really isn't a barrier, and shouldn't be seen as or presented as a barrier to the workplace," Ms Rahman said.

"I think that's what's dangerous about these kinds of comments: it gives other people who aren't aware the notion that by employing a Muslim person you're going to have make some sort of significant accommodation [and] it's going to take a lot of time.

"You find that [Muslims] are actually more productive, because by making these small accommodations, you get a much higher sense of loyalty, a much higher sense of commitment."

Ms Rahman defended Dr Richards' right to free speech, but said his comments were "unacceptable and have negative impacts".


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