Minneapolis Beryl Dsouza was late and in no mood for delays when she stopped at a Target store after work two weeks ago for milk, bread and bacon.
So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier - who had on the traditional headscarf, or hijab, worn by many Muslim women - refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.
"She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag," said Dsouza, 53, of Minneapolis. "It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier."
In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Quran that prohibits the handling of pork products.
Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.
It has set off a firestorm of comments - more than 400, as of Tuesday evening - on the Star Tribune's community blog, www.buzz.mn. People called the newspaper from as far as Tokyo to voice their opinion.
It remains unclear how many Muslim cashiers in the Twin Cities are declining to ring up pork sales.
The Twin Cities area has become a hotbed for such conflicts because of its burgeoning population of Somali immigrants, many of whom are orthodox Muslims. Last year, Somali cabdrivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport attracted national attention when some refused to carry passengers toting alcohol.
Dr. Shah Khan, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Minnesota in Fridley, said the Somali Muslim community is divided between those who believe it is wrong only to eat pork and more orthodox Muslims who believe the prohibition extends to selling, touching or handling the meat.
He urged people to remember the extraordinary adjustments many Somalis have made. "Many of these people are refugees. They may have been tortured. And they came here having never held a book in English," he said. "They're already adapting to our society. We need to adapt to them, too."
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for a person's religious practices if it doesn't impose an undue hardship.