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Rising Discrimination Against Muslim Workers

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A dispatch from the uglier side of the modern workplace: complaints about discrimination against Muslim workers have risen by 20 percent in the past year—and by 60 percent since 2005.

According to the New York Times, complaints from Muslim workers run the gamut “from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.”

The likely reasons for the upsurge in complaints are all too predictable: the Times piece cites 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and “the erroneous belief, held by many Americans, that the first nonwhite president is Muslim” as problems. Additionally, the brouhaha over the proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan (aka “the Ground Zero Mosque”) was listed as a factor, but the report noted that “complaints were increasing even before frictions erupted” on the issue.

Most distressing of all, as complaints by Muslim employees are higher now than at any time in the past ten years—including right after the 9/11 attacks. And complaints from Muslim workers now make up a quarter of all religious discrimination claims, despite the fact that the group comprises just two percent of the US population.

There’s a question—also reflected in the report—of whether the incidences of discrimination have risen, or whether people are simply reporting the incidences more. Either way, the figures clearly show that there’s a problem. The only real question, then, is what can be done about it.

Have you witnessed or been a victim of this kind of discrimination? Do you have any thoughts on what causes it or what can be done about it? Post your comments below.

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Written by Phil Stott

September 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm

One Response

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  1. I’m not quite sure I understand the discrimination claim. I can’t wear a cap or hat at work, so why should headscarves be treated any differently? Also, I can’t attend church or synagogue services several times a day, so why should the call to prayer be any different.

    Believe whatever you wish. It makes no difference to me. But being treated like other faiths (so special clothing requirements, no special time off for prayer, etc) is by definition non-discriminatory.

    Paul Tomlinson

    September 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm


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