This paper is based on the interview with one of the Muslims’ social workers in the U.S., whose name will be not revealed for the purpose of confidentiality. This person will be further referred to as interviewee. In our dialogue, the interviewee defined discrimination, the purpose of discrimination in comprehending social issues, and how problems of discrimination might or might not change as discussion on this continues. We also talked about challenges the Muslims living in North America face as well as how such discrimination can be fought particularly by a social worker. Our conversation ended on what Center on Race and Social Problems is doing to end discrimination.
Confronting social problems starts with discussion of existence of the issues as well as their cause. Internationally, the Muslims have been faced with an increasing direct aggression as well as direct distortion of their principles even prior to the dreadful events of the 9-11. However, due to that horrifying day, such aggregations have actually worsened. Comprehending such social problems is only the beginning of countering and confronting them within the society (Hammond 1).
Therefore, the Muslims in North America are widely discriminated by the Non-Muslims communities as result of the above terrorism acts and many other things in their society. Due to this fact, we are going to discuss the challenges they face in the society for being a Muslim. According to the interviewee, discrimination in the perspective of the law can be categorized into indirect and direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination is a situation where a certain provision appears to be neutral, but it disadvantages a group or person from doing something. For instance, a college or university arranges for an exam on the date when there is a main religious festival.
Direct discrimination implies treating a group or a person less favorably than another group or person in similar circumstances, normally on the ground of their religion, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation or age. For instance, in a college or university, a student might be unfairly awarded a lower grade because the one marking it knew that the student was a gay or the Muslim. In education and employment, direct discrimination is illegal, and it is, thus, a social problem.
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Basing on the interview and other sources, the challenges that the Muslims are facing in North America will be discussed in this paper.
Through immigration, North America has industrialized into the world’s most religiously and culturally diverse society. People go to the America, the so called “lucky country,” with notion that America is land of opportunity and fairness (Mason 237). However, ethnically and religiously assorted societies create a wide range of continuously changing issues as well as challenges for groups, individuals, and society on the whole. A number of such issues may include: racism, minority groups, harassment, intimidation, stereotyping, employment denial, disapproval to create religious establishments as well as problems dealing with right to use services or housing as a result of ethnic appearance (Bouma 296).
The American Muslims are frequently one of minority groups which are normally discriminated against. However, negative ill treatment and stereotyping are old phenomena. From the early 1912, the Muslims were perceived as others and were deemed as cause for alarm and threat to the American cultural as well as societal values. This was also an issue in Australia in the same period, as pointed out by Poynting and Mason (15). The 1990s Gulf war, the September 11 US attacks, Bali bombings, refugee crisis as well as Afghanistan war have intensified such attitudes further as well as sparked a great deal of ill feeling amongst the Non-Muslims and the Muslims within America and other parts of the world (Aly 33).
Stereotypes of the Muslims have actually been portrayed in several ways by mass media in the America as well as Western culture. Stereotypical depictions of Muslims are frequently manifested in the society’s theaters, literature, and media as well as in other artistic expressions. These depictions, mostly negative, frequently have negative repercussions on the American Muslims in their daily interactions. In the American textbooks, which hypothetically should be written in less-creative language, related negative and incorrect stereotypes of the Muslims can also be found (Morgan 318). The role of Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik of 1921 and The Son of the Sheik of 1926 laid down the foundation for negative portrayal and exploration of the Muslims as well as Arabs in the Hollywood films. These two movies represented the Muslim or Arab characters as charlatans, brutes, murderers, and thieves (Cones 1).
Presently, the Muslim’s image in American media has been a major issue under discussions. “Jihad in America,” a television program in PBS, and “Crimson Jihad,” which is depicted in a well-liked movie “True lies,” have portrayed the Muslim’s image as a cause for concern. The uses of word “jihad” are descriptive of the problem. The term “jihad” means ‘holy war’ and is normally misinterpreted by many Non-Muslims (Pluralism.org).
Appeals to media for fairness and accuracy continue, whilst the newspaper headlines frequently print “Muslim” and “Islam” next to the terms such as ‘fundamentalist’, ‘fanatic’, ‘violence’, ‘terrorist,’ and ‘militant’. In the meantime, events like 1979’s Iranian Revolution as well as succeeding hostage crisis, Saddam Hussein wartime rhetoric, and the bombing of World Trade Center received massive media coverage as proof of “Islamic fundamentalism.” It appears that a few terrorist extremists violate Islam central principles, thus determining the image of the entire Muslim society (Pluralism.org).
The American Muslim society has organized to fight in opposition to such dangerous stereotypes and damaging effects. An increasing number of the Muslim organizations have been instituted to educate general public and the media about Islam as well as encourage Muslims to speak out in their community against discrimination (Pluralism.org).
Employment Denial and Harassment
In this subsection, the denial of the employment opportunities to the Muslim community and harassment will be discussed, which are among the problems raised by the interviewee.
The federal law requires all the employers to treat their employees equally in spite of their national origin or how they look. The employers should assess workers and potential workers based on qualifications and not their origin. Discrimination based on national origin occurs when employers fire or decline to promote or hire someone because of cultural, linguistic or physical characteristics (Adc.org).
Harassment, on the other hand, is also illegal. Ethnic slur or physical/verbal abuse due to nationality comprises harassment. Intimidation, offensive or hostile working environment unfairly interfere with the work performance and negatively impact the employment opportunities (Adc.org). Offensive jokes, graffiti, name-calling, posters, threats, emails, verbal comments, and taunts are some of the harassment examples (Sikhcoalition.org).
For instance, ex-child care assistant for Cook County Court filed a case against her ex-supervisor for supposedly harassing her because she was a Muslim. She claimed that the supervisor bullied her since she was a “bad Christian,” and based on the suit, the supervisor termed the other employees as “good Christians.” The supervisor discriminated her directly even during times of prayers and told other employees not to coordinate with “bad Christian” like Huri, the plaintiff (Brachear 1).
Muslims Identity Issues in the Society
The Muslims identity had always been mistaken due to some of the consequences counter-terrorism has had on “Muslim Communities” in the Europe and the United States, especially following the 9/11 assaults, when the President of the United States, Bush released the Patriot Act aiming at sensing any terrorist movement and avoiding any further assaults. One of the main purposes of the “Patriotic Act” is to control immigration into the United States. The constraint of immigration from nations such as Pakistan and Iraq had been a component of this preliminary arrangement, which had currently been extended to each and every one Muslim nation. This procedure has had cruel effects on individuals desiring to migrate to the United States. Other purpose of Patriotic Act was monitoring of all Islamic movements at the domestic level, with no any actual criteria to establish what made up the terrorism.
The majorities of the Muslims in the United States were comparatively economically well-off and had partaken actively in their societies, but every earlier work collapsed after 9/11. Before 9/11, the United States society view had never actually taken notice of the Muslims in community, but rather viewed the diverse cultural backgrounds. It had nowadays changed, and the Muslims started to be regarded with rising hostility. A lot of American Muslims felt like in a virtual concentration camp and were frequently shocked to find out about the stresses the European Muslims encountered and how alike they were to their circumstance. In addition, Islam had been at all times demonized in “European Foreign Policy”; this refers to the hostage disaster in Iran. Even in the colonial period, one would recognize a certain image of Islam. There is a European propensity to equate Muslims with fanaticism, something that was already there in Voltaire’s Mahomet. Therefore, all European governments should give the Muslims the rights they deserve for European governments to take a collective action to change this negative attitudes towards Islam and Muslims.
Disapproval of Religious Establishments
Due to the challenges of interviewing minorities in secular nations, the researchers on the America’s Muslims have mainly studied people attending mosques. The researcher found out that the biggest categories of the Muslims who frequently go to a mosque in North America are the Arabs, indigenous Africans, and South Asians, and sixteen per cent are converts to Islam (Mason 240). As religious minority, the American Muslims have peculiar features. On the other hand, there are also a few common strings, which link them together. For instance, numerous indigenous Muslims, depending on the community they enclose themselves with after espoused Islam, have incorporated different factors of immigrant cultures into the Islam understanding. In the case of black indigenous Americans, the impression of converts who attribute religious ability to immigrant Muslims has been known as authenticated (eurative.com)
Mosques in the United States are turning out to be dangerous places. Therefore, the aggressive oratory of traditional and religious critics in America has to be reckoned as at least to some extent responsible for what is happening. When individuals, for instance, state that Arabs have to be slain and all Muslims have to be converted to Christianity, this certainly will have effect over a long period of time. Thus, unawareness and racism have much more influence than people realize. Most of this violence is a result of religiously supported retaliation against the Muslim society that is common for acts devoted to exacting persons or organizations.
Denial of Access to Good Services and Housing
Lack of proper access to services such as healthcare and housing by the Muslims is probable to unfavorably affect the African Americans’ health since it has been a vital institutional system by which racial discrimination has been practiced and underpinned. Economic discrimination is one of the determinants that lead to poor health services (Mason 240). The researcher found out that because of the effects on social economic status of the Muslims, the concentrated poor quality and social discrimination connected to high-level of residential discrimination in metropolitan areas have a wide assortment of social repercussions. The study identified various mechanisms related to the concentration of poverty and social discrimination, through which isolation can unfavorably impact on health. Poverty can cause poorer nutrition, inadequate access to medical services, and superior level of distress (Brachear 4) Social support, an essential determinant of discrepancies in health status, might also connect separation to diseases. There is an inverse connection between the superiority of social connection and quality plus a wide range of pointers of inadequate access to health service and housing (Hammond 319). In the same time, levels of memberships and contribution in churches, mosques, and other organizations are lower in discriminated areas (Eurative.com 1). Economic problems may also deteriorate the fabric of social support and families. Discrimination may also cause disregard and worsening of the physical surroundings. Redlining by banks may cause misappropriate demonstration of unwanted land utilizes such as abandoned factories, warehouses, land-fills, residential projects in isolated areas. The removal of the police and security services from these areas may further activate the Muslims outflow and immigration to the areas of isolation.
In order to make a difference in fighting discrimination against the Muslims in America and any other part of the world, one should learn about several types of discrimination as well as why they take place. In addition, one should recognize how each and every individual may feel if he/she is discriminated against as well as try to find a way in which such circumstances could be dealt with or avoided (Lype 1). Thus, in this subsection we are going to propose possible solutions that can eliminate or reduce discrimination.
The first thing to do as an employer is to set anti-discrimination as well as anti-harassment policies, which should then be posted or properly communicated to all the employees. If the firm can exhibit that it was able to take some steps to correct and prevent harassment and an individual complaining failed to use correction and prevention mechanisms, then the firm has successful defense in any harassment claim. The policy should include all forms of discrimination as well as harassment that are prohibited, and complaint procedure should allow workers a minimum of two avenues for complaint registration. Besides having these policies, it is important to communicate them to all the employees properly, and the supervisors should be trained properly. In addition, complaints should be investigated and handled properly and carefully (Lype 1).
Undertaking these steps is not enough as the firm should constantly remind its employees and strongly stand against discrimination. Under current circumstances, it may be suitable to address specific need to be aware of instances of intimidation or harassment against people from the Middle East or of the Muslim faith. A number of workers might automatically relate Arab-American colleagues with Muslim faith, without noticing that most Arab-Americans are actually Christians or other faiths’ members and that most Muslims are normally not Arab-Americans. Workers may be educated on firm’s policies and dangers of coming with such assumptions; all of this is in the effort to promote the firm’s common directive that the employees, customers, and vendors among other stakeholders should respect. Whilst patriotism runs very high presently, educating the employees on such issues or enforcing such policies cannot be treated as non-patriotic (Lype 2).
The firm should also be prepared to receive complaints. If the firm has not trained its supervisors on how to handle harassment as well as discrimination complaints, it is a high time they do so. All advantages of the good harassment policies as well as procedures may be lost when the supervisors fail or ignore to receive or recognize complaints. Even the experienced supervisors might not recognize how widely categories of national origin and religious discrimination might be interpreted (Lype 2). Additionally, so as to ensure a quick response to the harassment complaints, it is important for the person carrying investigation to be trained properly. As he/she may need extra tips on how to handle national origin and religious discrimination claims, particularly where Muslims workers are involved (Lype 3).
Employees have different prayer times in accordance with particular faith, and therefore, employees should be afforded time for devotion in prayers if they need to. Recently there is an increased request for the accommodations in place of work to permit employees to attend prayers, allow diverse dress code, and observances among others. This request comes from people from various religions. Thus, religious beliefs as well as observances should be accommodated in workplace, unless accommodation presents unnecessary hardship or it is unreasonable in some ways. In such a case, an employer should have internal procedures or policy for handling any such religious accommodation requests (Lype 3).
Solutions to the Muslims Identity Issues in the Society
There are two main ways to deal with this circumstance. The first one is to agree to it, and the other one is to oppose these propensities. There were several questions that came up concerning the “Salafist Groups” in Europe. They never had interests in partaking in community or political actions, but rather desired to live in an equivalent community. The more helpful means of solving this issue would be to build-up legitimacy as well as offer Muslims the chance to uphold the principles of their faith and to be good United States citizens at the same time. This constructive technique requires regulation, but there is insufficient religious authority to guide this procedure.
In the process of creating a common Muslim identity in the US, the American Muslims were struggling to locate a flag about which to rally. The increase in discrimination had pushed a lot of individuals towards an integrated aversion to Islam. In Europe’s old Muslim nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and France, one would witness a recent generation of youthful Muslims using Islam as a uniting identity to aid in creating a Muslim society.