[…] I do not worry about Abedin. A person of her intelligence and clout can withstand these attacks. I worry about Muslim high school and college students who wonder why they should even enter politics if they will, like Abedin, be constantly scrutinized because of their faith.
In 1999, I was an intern in Washington, DC, when I heard Abedin and Suhail Khan, a Muslim Republican himself accused of being an extremist, speak to the Muslim Public Service Network. It was Abedin and Khan who convinced me that there was—and is—space for Muslims in politics. […]
But even as I rose through the ranks of Washington, DC, I continued to face constant scrutiny over my faith. When I interviewed at a human-rights organization, I was asked more than once if I am willing to condemn suicide bombing and if I am comfortable supporting gay marriage. I told the interviewer that no self-respecting human rights advocate supports suicide bombing and opposes gay marriage. The answer did not suffice. To get the job, I had to spell it out: I am against suicide bombing; I am for gay marriage.
This happened in government agencies as well. In an interview for a research position on South Asian affairs at a US bureau, I was asked to state my views on Israel. And I have, sadly, taken it as a given that in interviews I will be asked what kind of Arab I am. When I say that I am the “Indian kind of Arab,” few understand—or appreciate—the joke.
In my most recent job interview, the head of an NGO asked how devout I am in my Islamic faith. Later that night, I pulled out of the interview process, packed up the rest of my belongings, and moved across the country to Oakland.
Zahir Janmohamed writes about prejudice against Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in political and NGO circles. This one’s a must read — check out the full article at the source.