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
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 —
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
“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.”