Discrimination against Muslims in USA -Facts and fiction: A personal account

-Biplab Pal

Anaheim, CA

Dec 24, 2004

On day of 9/11, I was heading towards NewYork City and by the time, I crossed NeYork Penn station, I was struck by the huge fumes of ashes that was covering the sky. By 11 AM, the whole city was gripping under by a deep thick cover of smoke and for 15 minutes nothing was visible. Then, I witnessed the biggest tragedy of our life time before my eye--so much, so bad were the eyes of the waiting mothers and wives in the stations of NJ Transit, I still do not have enough mental power to describe the disaster of the day.

On the next day, I received my first hate call in USA.."You motherxxx.."..I tried to interrupt the old lady and tell her that I am an Indian born Hindu, but she didn't know what I was talking about. Then I realized, 80-90% of the American thinks, every body that looks like a middle-eastern complexion, is a Muslim and they do not know the existence of Hinduism.But that is typical of American, the most parochial nation on the earth. On 9/13 nite, I was heading towards a bar and I was stopped by the cops which is the first time, I was ever pulled over. First thing, I was asked where I was heading at 11PM? I politely told him that I was going to the bar..Oh! That' great, so you drink..You are not a Muslim then? I told him that he is right. So, he showed me the direction to the bar. His intention was pretty obvious. He was looking for an suspicious Muslim to grill.

I don't know after 9/11, how many times in lunch/dinners and in corporate parties, I had to convince the folks that I eat pork and I drink and therefore be assured that I am not a Muslim. Still many of them, remain suspicious that I am hiding my identity.

Since, then I know, how difficult for the educated Muslims to get a white color job in US. My friend who was running a bodyshopping company, told me, he is afraid of placing any Muslim consultant to his clients because they might cancel his vendorship for showing unknown reason. Quite naturally, Muslims who lost their jobs after 9/11, didn't get an equivalent job or are still looking for a job.

We have been actively hiring engineers in our division in Anaheim, and I look for thousands of resumes in LA area in Monster website. Many of the Bangladeshi engineers are changing their name to American sounding Christian names to get a job. So Jaher Mohammad can post his resume as John Mathews as well. I interviewed one such guy and asked him for the cause. He is an US citizen of Bangladeshi origin. After he lost his job in a silicon foundry six months back, he didn't get an interview yet. So, he decided to change his name in the resume. Many similar stories follow later. One of my excollegue Sufian who was laid off in Dec,2001, started working in his brother's restuarant because he could not find anything despite having a PhD from NJIT. Finally he decided to join University of Jordan as a Professor in 2003. His name change to Sufi Abraham from Sufian Abbedrabbo, didn't get him through.

No doubt, Muslims from India and Bangladesh are mostly moderate and some times, more secular than most of the Americans. Many of the illeterate daily laborer Muslims in our village town, are more secular than average Americans. My father had a favorite Muslim contractor, who built our house. I used to call him Bakkar mamu and he never visited any Mosque. He might be a class three or four educated, but he was firm in his conviction that religion feeds him nothing and if he continues in the path of honesty, why Allah would punish him for not going to Mosque? Because if he did punish him for not going to the Mosque, then Allah is as bad as a local 'tolabaj mastan' ( local hooligans who collect their dues by force ). He with his courage deeply influenced me to be an atheist in childhood and I sometimes wonder, I have not found a single lowly educated Americans who can think like him beyond their religion ( highly educated Americans are different story).

However, average Americans can not think like Mr Bakkar and therefore, Muslims will be vanishing from the white color jobs sooner than you can think.



About the Author: Biplab Pal (31) works as an optical R&D engineer in Endress+Hausser, California. Born in Calcutta(73) and brought up in a small village town, Karimpur of Nadia, he attended his higher secondary schooling in Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission. He did his PhD (2001) in Electronics, MS &BS in Physics, all from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Immediately after PhD, he came to USA in 2001 to work as an optical engineer and since then, he has been working in various field of optical engineering. His research interest includes development of optical sensors for medical optics, pharmaceuticals and drinking/waste water purification. Author is an avid reader of history and religious philosophy. He learned Hinduism, Zen-Buddhism and Catholic Christianity under great masters but chose to follow objectivism of science as supreme source of spiritual guidance.