Controversy over prayer ban during working hours

Authorities are investigating Bromölla municipality in southern Sweden for a prayer ban during working hours amid reports the move to bar workers from engaging in prayers during working hours could be in violation of people’s rights.

The ban, observers feel, could be in violation of Swedish laws and it only covers workers employed in the local government.

It emerged that the Equality Ombudsman has sent at least eight questions to officials in the town of Bromölla, demanding answers and clarification on the prayer ban effected in June during working hours.

The authority is also looking into how the said ban will be enforced.

The local authority and politicians have defended the ban saying it was not meant to infringe on anyone’s rights but to ensure workers do not take time off work to pray instead of being productive.

Some religions take to pray at least five times a day.

The municipal council announced the new guideline banning employees at its schools, offices and other local government buildings from praying during work hours in June.

Officials said the rule protects religious freedom because religious freedom also includes the “right to avoid public religious expression.”

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