Muslim Sues NY Police for Job Bias
WASHINGTON – An American Muslim is suing the New York Police Department for barring him from joining the force because of his Arabic origin and Muslim faith, a case rights activists say symbolizes a surge in job discrimination since the 9/11.
“There is a lot of racism and a lot of paranoia about Arabs in the police department,” Mark Taylor, lawyer of Said Hajem, told IslamOnline.
Hajem, a 39-year-old naturalized US citizen originally from Morocco, decided to pursue a career with the NYPD after knowing about the need for Arabic speakers on the force.
He passed the entrance exams with high scores and was cleared to join the Police Academy. He even received a congratulatory letter from the Police Commissioner.
But at the interview with Ricardo Ramkissoon, who was in charge of reviewing the application, the officer refused to take any personal references with Middle Eastern names of Hajem’s friends and neighbors.
“The officer responded very negatively to that, claiming that he could be a terrorist and they would say good things about him to get him on the force,” said Taylor.
“He specifically said that he was against officers from other countries to become members of the police department.”
Ramkissoon later said in his review that there are several reasons not to hire Hajem.
“That was really shocking to us… it is just a clear case of bias,” said Taylor, adding that his client decided to take his case to the court.
Lawyers for the city filed a motion asking that Hajem’s claim be dismissed but the District Court in Manhattan turned it down.
“The case is going to trial as the judge found that there are enough evidences for discrimination here to justify a trial,” said Taylor, adding that the lawsuit will proceed next month.
The NYPD had earlier said they just delayed Hajem’s hiring for years, but he is still eligible for hiring indefinitely.
They did not respond to IOL request for comment.
Civil rights advocates believe Hajem’s case is not so uncommon in post 9/11 America.
“There are too many cases without having something to support it,” Khadija Athman, Civil Rights Manager at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), told IOL.
She noted many Muslims have faced job discrimination since 9/11 and filed cases with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency responsible for enforcing laws against employment discrimination.
“After September 11, there were so many of these cases the EEOC received that they had to have a separate department to deal with the cases affecting Muslims and people from Middle Eastern origin.”
Fahed Al-Rawaf, a media and legal adviser at the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), agrees that discrimination at work place against Muslims and Arabs has soared.
“There has been a surge in employment discrimination cases across the country.”
The EEOC estimates confirm that Muslims and Arabs have faced the sharpest increase in workplace discrimination in recent years.
But unfortunately, laments Athman, most people just take it and do not report the discrimination they were subject to or file lawsuit.
“The problem is that with employment, it is not easy to prove you were not approved because of being Muslim or Arab.”
More and more we see Muslims imposing their religion on non-Muslims, plotting terrorist attacks, playing the victim card, or filing lawsuits. Maybe one day they will realize that Islam and the West do not mix. Even if they do most of them will not leave, as their religion commands them to fight on until Islam dominates the world.