NEW YORK (May. 8)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has charged the Dynalectron Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Va., with “offensive and un-American practices.” According to the ADL, Dynalectron has been converting employes to the Moslem religion as a prerequisite for working in Saudi Arabia.
The ADL claimed that the Fort Worth, Texas branch of Dynalectron recruited helicopter pilots and crews to serve in the Mecca area for fire prevention duty during pilgrimages. At some point in their orientation, the recruits were told that they would have to convert to the Moslem religion, as non-Moslems are forbidden in the area according to Saudi Arabian law.
According to Abraham Foxman, ADL’s associate national director, the firm put the recruits through a conversion program, which involved several days of instruction under a Moslem teacher. However, he added, even the support personnel in this operation, who did not have any duty in Mecca, were “encouraged” to convert.
Following the conversion course in Fort Worth, the ADL said, the recruits were flown to Tokyo to get instruction in operating special Kawasaki fire-fighting helicopters, equipped with water drums. Dynalectron is the sub-contractor to Kawasaki Heavy Industries in supplying helicopter crews to Saudi Arabia.
When questioned by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about the conversion policy, Dynalectron declined to comment, but a spokesman for the firm did state that the company does not discriminate in its hiring of employes based on religion.
Foxman reported that while in Tokyo, the recruits were taken to an Islamic center where they were given a lecture before signing papers attesting to their conversion to Islam.
In 1979, one of six pilots who went to Japan — Wade Kern — refused to accept conversion and was fired by Dynalectron, according to his attorney, Art Brender of Fort Worth, who has filed a $10,000 damage suit in U.S. district court. “The helicopter pilots,” Brender told ADL, “were given a ‘fire and brimstone’ lecture by a mullah. He warned them that they could face death if they went to Mecca without becoming sincere and bona fide converts to Islam.” At this point, according to Brender, his client “refused to go any further with the whole business and flew home.”