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Some Target Stores Change Duties for Muslim Cashiers Who Object to Ringing Up Pork

Muslim cashiers at some local Target stores who object to ringing up products that contain pork are being shifted to other positions, the national retailer said Saturday.

Some Muslim cashiers had declined to scan products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or some customers scanned the items themselves.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has offered the cashiers the option of wearing gloves, shifting to other positions or transferring to other stores.

"We are confident that this is a reasonable solution for our guests and team members," Target spokeswoman Paula Thornton-Greear said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Islam teaches that eating pork is forbidden, and some Muslims feel selling or handling pork is also forbidden because it would make them complicit in the sins of others.

Greear said the situation was a local problem only.

"It is not an issue in most of our stores in the Twin Cities," she said in separate comments via e-mail. "There is also no indication that this is an issue in the Minnesota market overall or nationwide."

As the local Muslim population grows, fueled by immigration from East African countries such as Somalia, efforts by Muslims to live by the rules of their faith often conflict with American realities.

In one dispute, some Muslim cab drivers who serve Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport refuse to take passengers who are carrying alcohol. The Metropolitan Airports Commission is expected to vote in April on a proposal that would hand out 30-day license suspensions to cabbies who refuse service for any reason.

Suhara Robla, who works at a SuperTarget, told the Star Tribune newspaper that more than a dozen Muslim cashiers were asked Thursday to do other jobs.

"They told all of us who don't touch pork to go to the sales floor," she told the newspaper. "They really didn't say why. They just said it was a new policy."