Turkey Should Scrutinize Trade With Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

By Robert Miranda, Special Columnist, Yeni Asya News, Istanbul, Turkey

February 29, 2016

Editor’s Note: The following article was publish this week by Yeni Asya News based in Istanbul, Turkey. Robert is a weekly columnist for the daily national publication for the last five years.

In recent days, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former candidate for President of the United States of America, met with the General Consul of Turkey, Umut Acar, to begin talks to improve trade relations between Turkey and Wisconsin.

The government agency in Wisconsin charged with leading this effort is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The department is chaired by Dan Ariens who is also President and CEO of the Ariens Company.

The WEDC views Turkey as an important commercial link between East and West, which has evolved into one of the world’s newly industrialized economies. Governor Walker wants to pursue trade talks with Turkey because it presents Wisconsin companies looking to export goods with great opportunities.

Establishing trade opportunities between Turkey and Wisconsin is a great idea. However, it must be noted that engaging in talks with WEDC chairman Dan Ariens should be looked at closely as he recently made national news in America implementing a policy that has negatively impacted Muslim prayer in the work place.

Governor Walker’s representative, Fan Ariens, changed his company’s prayer policy to prevent dozens of Muslim employees at his company from worshipping on the job — and he threatened to fire them if they didn’t like it, Muslim workers at the company reported to American media.

Ariens Company used to allow over 50 Muslims who work at his business take two breaks a day — for five minutes at a time — for prayers.

That all recently changed abruptly when the company sent out a statement saying it “does not allow for unscheduled breaks in production” — even for prayer.

Muslim employees said that when they complained they were issued unemployment papers, which indicated that they leave the company.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Ariens to compromise, stating: “We ask Ariens to revert to its previous policy allowing religious accommodation until a resolution can be reached that allows the workers to practice their faith and permits an efficient manufacturing process.”

But the company has not changed its policy.

Muslims have stated that, before the policy change, “undue hardship” to the company was avoided because other employees took over their tasks during prayer.

In addition, Governor Walker is reportedly ready to sign several laws that many in Wisconsin feel discriminates against immigrants—including Muslims.

The laws range from preventing immigrants from being given government identification cards that would allow them access to government services and health needs.

The laws recently were protested by over 50,000 people, who surrounded the Wisconsin State Capitol and called the laws inhumane.

These laws will negatively impact mostly Hispanic immigrants in Wisconsin, and will certainly negatively impact Muslim immigrants as well.

Governor Walker should use his influence and ask his WEDC chairman, Ariens, to reconsider his position regarding Muslims praying at his company in order to prevent precedent that would give other companies in Wisconsin motivation to enact similar policies preventing Muslims from meeting their obligatory prayers.

Governor Walker should also refuse to sign the anti-immigrant legislation that oppresses immigrants in Wisconsin as well.

Turkey should scrutinize Wisconsin’s motivations before engaging in trade with a state that is intolerant of Muslims and immigrants.

Back to top
Back to Minds Eye

Last edited by patricia obletz. Based on work by Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on March 02, 2016

Legal Information |  Designed and built by Emergency Digital. | Hosted by Steadfast Networks