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A municipal council in Sweden passed a new guideline banning employees at its schools, offices and other local government buildings from praying during work hours.
Policy - Bromölla - Municipality - Sweden - Newspaper
The policy was passed in the Bromölla, a coastal municipality in southern Sweden, according to the regional newspaper Kristianstadsbladet.
The local council is controlled by politicians belonging to the conservative Sweden Democrats Party. The policy passed last week.
Regulation - Everything - Time - Work - Time
"In the regulation, we have cut out everything which could be interpreted as saying that you can take time off to pray during work time," Chairman Eric Berntsson, who also chairs the local chapter of the Sweden Democrats, told The Local. "Both we and the Moderates and the Christian Democrats thought that the regulations should be more precise."
Berntsson argued that the rule is similar to policies that ban employees from taking cigarette breaks while on the clock. He added that the ban is universal and applies to adherents of all religions.
Addition - Schools - Rule - Homes - Council
In addition to schools, the rule will also reportedly apply to nursing homes and council offices. The ban does not apply to employees' official break periods.
Some fear that the rule violates employees' religious freedom rights, as prayer is a vital part of life for many religious adherents. And for Muslims, many are called to pray five times per day, even on a workday.
Kristianstadsbladet - Council - Policy - Freedom - Freedom
According to Kristianstadsbladet, the municipal council contends that the new policy actually protects religious freedom because religious freedom also includes the "right to avoid public religious expression."
Although the ban applies to all religions, many believe the rule will mostly impact Muslims...
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