Palm Beach Gardens – A former security guard claims he was harassed by a co-worker because of his religion, and then fired for complaining about it.

Refat Amar, 31, a Muslim, said he was hassled because of his faith and origin. He came to America from Egypt in 1998.

“This is a case of religious discrimination because [the co-worker] used words like ‘terrorist’ and ‘Guantanamo,'” said Altaf Ali, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national group that defends the civil rights of Muslims in America.

Cases such as Amar’s are common, he said. There were 168 anti-Muslim discrimination cases in Florida last year, he said.

The council held a news conference Thursday to present Amar’s case against his former employer, Wackenhut Corp., a private security and investigation business. Amar asked the company for a formal apology and a full investigation of his harassment complaints but got neither, he said.

“We take these things very seriously,” said Michael Hogsten, vice president and assistant general counsel of Wackenhut. He said the company was preparing a response for the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which is investigating the case.

Thursday, from the sidewalk in front of Wackenhut headquarters, Amar said he had “daily” encounters with an abusive co-worker.

“He regularly called me names,” Amar said. “He called me a terrorist and said that me and my family should be arrested and sent to Guantanamo.”

The harassment continued for six months, Amar said, until he complained to the human relations department. Amar was fired two days later, he said.


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