With the most recent tragic and appalling massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Muslim Extremists have found themselves for the umpteenth time, front and center of the media stage. These actions have created an ongoing global backlash regarding extremists, religious fanaticism and terrorism. There is an unforeseen effect to this situation though. Muslims have become the new devil of the west, constantly vilified and indicated in violent acts. Unfortunately, this perception affects all Muslims or individuals of Middle Eastern decent, even if it is not explicitly stated or shown. These are a few ways extremists have ruined the job market for Muslims.
According to a NYtimes article, Mohammad Kaleemuddin was fired from his job after he complained to his supervisor that his co-workers were calling him a ‘terrorist’ and ‘Osama’. Let’s spin that on its head for argument’s sake. If a darker fellow called his co-worker ‘white-trash,’ I’m sure that said offender would be berated and possibly terminated for his ‘insensitivity.’ Just to drive home my point, a Maryland teacher that was called ‘poor white trash’ and ‘white b*tch’ by his African American principle was awarded $350.000. Even a White House Security Staff official has been fired for tweeting that Sarah Palin’s family was ‘white trash’, instead of being given a medal for his astute observation. On the other hand, Mr. Kaleemuddin received a pink slip for being racially berated.
Cultural Artifacts and Standards Have Become Synonymous With Negativity Towards Muslims
Items that are integral to many Muslim country’s cultures have become associated with negative Islamic elements. Things such as prayers and headscarfs have become a basis for not hiring and termination. Just like you legally couldn’t fire a Christian for going to church on Christmas Eve you shouldn’t be able to disallow prayers or the use of a head-scarf. There is a Federal Law that requires employers to accommodate hijabs, as well as prayer breaks. That is if you’re hired.
Just Identifying Yourself as Muslim can Hurt Your Chances of Being Hired
Two separate sociological studies have shown a significant effect when including any religion on your resume, but the most shocking disparity comes from individuals that identified as Muslims. The studies sent resumes to two regions in the United States, the South and New England. Overall people that identified themselves as Muslims or had associations with the faith on their resume received 32% fewer emails and 54% fewer telephone responses. So just identifying yourself as a Muslim could potentially cut your hiring opportunities in half.
You are Guilty by Association
A word recently added to the lexicon has been Islamophobia. This literally means the fear of Muslims and Islam. Unfortunately, fear has the uncanny effect to create discrimination and hatred. We have seen far right groups throughout Europe using atrocities committed by extremists, to push for anti-immigration laws and to justify racist perspectives and actions. This behavior of course influences the peace-loving Muslims profoundly more than the very few extremists. Switzerland has even enacted an outright ban on the building of minarets (towers built onto Mosques that the Imam uses to announce prayers).
A Hope of Acceptance
I have highlighted many negative aspects of this situation, and I feel a moral obligation to balance out the negativity with some positivity. There have been numerous historical examples of many religious, racial and minority groups being embraced and accepted by their adopted communities. In many cases, this came with friction, conflict and resistance, but ultimately it dissipated into mutual respect and even love for the ‘other’. Hopefully, we shall see this shift not only for the Muslim faith but for any religion or ethnic group that is being discriminated against.
Are you a Muslim in the Western world and have found challenges because of your faith? Or do you feel that your community embraces you? Let us know in the comment section below.