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CA: Bias Threatens Muslim Careers

CA: Bias Threatens Muslim Careers

Momo Chang, Inside Bay Area, 9/19/05

A Muslim engineer who works at a leading technology company is called a terrorist by his co-workers and told that on Halloween he should dress as one.

A teacher at a vocational college tells a Muslim student who wears a hijab, or head scarf, that she is not allowed to wear it, and if she does no American will hire her.
A pilot tells a Muslim employee at an airline company he looks like a terrorist.

These are all accounts of workplace harassment documented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in California. The report shows that 18 percent of harassment incidents occur at the workplace, second only to occurrences at government agencies at 19 percent, many of which are also employment-related cases.

According to the most recent U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report, charges of discrimination against Muslims ”” or those perceived to be Muslim, such as South Asians ”” has doubled nationwide from 1,100 to 2,168 since Sept. 11, 2001, given a similar time span.

Jennifer, whose name has been changed because she fears retaliation at work, recalls her experience in the months after 9/11.

“When my mom and I walked by our co-workers, they started chanting, ‘terrorist, terrorist,'” she says.

She was 18 at the time and working the graveyard shift with her mom at a Fremont-based computer company. She had been in the country two years, taking college courses and working part-time jobs.

She said her co-workers also called her “bin Laden’s daughter” and her mother “bin Laden’s wife.” When she had henna painted on her hand ”” a symbol of celebration ”” during Eid, one co-worker asked, “Is that bin Laden’s blood?” She said even if her co-workers were joking, she asked them repeatedly to stop making comments, but they continued. She quit her job soon after. . .

Backlash from 9/11 hasn’t cooled off because of the world climate, such as the war in Iraq and the recent London transit bombings, all associated with Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim, says Safaa Ibrahim of CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area.

“The climate around the world impacts public opinion here, creating backlash against certain ethnic and religious groups,” she said. (MORE)


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