Muslim? We’ll Call You Back
By Katerina Zachovalova
did not want to reveal his last name, is a Muslim from
“Many, many American companies never call me back,” Afif said, “but the thing is they need the guys, they need workers, because you will find the same ad in the newspaper tomorrow.”
Until now, Afif
kept his problem to himself. According to Monica Tarazi,
the director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee in
“People feel all alone. They do not trust anybody,” said Afif after the afternoon prayer at the largest mosque in
Afif said that he does not want to sue the employers that refuse to hire him. According to Omar Mohammedi, an employment discrimination lawyer, this reluctance is rather common. Mohammedi said even the green-card holders do not want to sue employers who discriminate against them.
“Most of these people are immigrant, and they do not know how the system works,” he said, “they think if their name becomes known, there is a risk they will be exposed. They think the government will go after them, and they will be deported as well.”
Mohammedi who currently represents 10 Muslims who say they were discriminated against by employers in the year since the attacks said that he has seen four times as many cases compared to the years before. But he also added that some Muslims are very reluctant to go public. “When I tell them, let’s make it public, they never call me again,” he said.
The Muslim community prefers the confidentiality offered by the local grass root groups. “There is a tremendous mistrust of the government within the community,” Tarazi said, “while some agencies like the EEOC have been very supportive of our community, and have been very responsive when we reported cases of discrimination to them, other government agencies have been responsible for racial profiling.”
According to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, several hundred
people reported Sept. 11 backlash workplace discrimination to them in the first
eight weeks after the attacks. In the years before Sept. 11, they used to
handle 25 allegations a week. Tarazi said that she is
still seeing more cases today than before Sept. 11. On the contrary, only 24
Pincus said there is no reason to be afraid to file a complaint with the Commission. “We do not ask people their immigration status, or naturalization status. We do not want them to feel that we file reports afterwards. There is nothing like that at all,” he said.
But according to Tarazi, the location of the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in
According to Pincus, the Commission is planning
to move to new premises at
But the move will not make Afif to file a complaint with the Commission. He wants to better his situation on his own. He said he plans to get a degree in construction management, so he can get a license and work by himself. Afif said his friends are helping him out to get by, and his landlord gave him a rent break. “Right now I am in a deep trouble. I do not have money to buy food, to pay rent. I hope that one day it will get better.”