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‘Non-Muslims outnumber Muslims in terror plots’

Friday November 12, 2010 10:11:53 AM, Barbara Ferguson

Washington: A new report on violent extremists in the United States finds that terrorism plots by non-Muslims greatly outnumber those attempted by Muslims, and that Muslim-American communities helped foil close to a third of Al-Qaeda-related terror plots threatening the country since Sep. 11, 2001. The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a not-for-profit organization advocating for the civil rights of American Muslims, commissioned the report.

Reportedly the first of its kind by a Muslim-American organization, the database tracks plots by Muslim and non-Muslim violent extremists in the United States.

One of the aims of the report, said the organizers, was to encourage the Muslim-American community to become part of the solution of the problem, as several recent unsuccessful terrorist plots has contributed to heightened public anxiety – and the search for scapegoats.

The successful interception of two parcel bombs shipped as cargo from Yemen this month further raised the public’s level of apprehension that another terrorist attack was in the making.

The backlash, or reaction to recent thwarted attacks against Americans has resulted in Muslims experiencing renewed discrimination in the workplace. The New York Times reports that Muslim workers filed a record 803 such claims in the year ended Sep. 30, 2009. That was up 20 percent from the previous year and up nearly 60 percent from 2005, according to federal data.

The report recommended that the government expand community- oriented policing initiatives; increase support for research on combating biased policing; expand investments in better human capital acquisitions; highlight citizen contributions to national security; and reform the fusion center process to increase coordination among law enforcement communities. As for those dealing with the often extreme emotions triggered by fear and religious beliefs that has resulted in tensions flaring and discriminatory actions in the workplace; employers, managers and supervisors are being asked to eunsure fair treatment of Muslim job applicants and employees.

Although Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the US population, they have filed about one-quarter of the religious discrimination complaints with the EEOC in 2009. American Jews filed only slightly more claims with the EEOC in 2009 than in the previous year. Catholics, Protestants and Sikhs filed fewer complaints in 2009 than in 2008.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, has filed several lawsuits connected with anti-Muslim discrimination. It sued JBS Swift, a meatpacking company, on behalf of 160 Somali immigrants; it filed a case against Abercrombie & Fitch, the clothing retailer, for refusing to hire a Muslim who wore a head scarf; and it sued a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Phoenix, charging that an Iraqi immigrant was called a “camel jockey.”

Still, Muslims find they can succeed in America.

Muslim Americans are doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, artists and laborers, and are especially well-represented within the medical profession: approximately 1 out of every 25 US doctor is a Muslim, and 15,000 Muslim Americans service in the US military.

One success story is Bill Aossey, founder and now a director of a small food processing business in Iowa, where he employs Muslims and non-Muslims. Aossey and the business he founded, Midamar Corporation, have the American-dream story to tell when it comes to accepting and accommodating Muslim — and non-Muslim — employees.

Midamar is a Muslim-owned business in a state with a less than 1 percent Muslim population. It’s the United State’s pioneer and leading supplier of halal meats. It was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1974, and three decades later is producing quality halal meat and poultry products not only throughout the US but also to 30 countries.

And out of 40 people Midamar employs, 12 of whom are Muslim.

Aossey has some simple advice for employers on how to accommodate the religious practices of their employees, and how to ensure mutual understanding.

“Have company outings, company picnics, encourage employees outside the work day to get to know each other. It’s like churches and neighborhoods have outings to get to know your neighbors. In companies, have outings to get to know your coworkers.”

(Courtesy: Arab News)





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