Religious Discrimination: Why a Muslim Job Seeker Faces Implicit Prejudice
Religious discrimination especially against Muslims is widespread than feared. The canker is rife even in Muslim majority city like Tamale, capital of the Northern Region.
Not too long ago, a beautiful friend of mine, a proud Muslim and avowed hijabist (a Muslim woman who wears a head-covering scarf as a symbol of modesty, piety, and cultural identity) found a job as a shop attendant at a supermarket off the old airport road from the stadium roundabout in Tamale.
She didn't last a week in the job because the owner of the shop didn't like the fact she takes intermittent breaks to pray. The most heinous of her experience was when her Madam, (owner of the shop) after working for just three days told her to stop dressing like a nun (Member of a religious community of women living in the enclosure of a monastery) to the store.
It was the straw that broke the camel's back, so she decided to quit but before doing so, she called a friend, a former attendant at the same store who recommended her for the appointment. This friend said taking time to pray as an employee is viewed a serious crime as participating in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
As a matter of fact, some former workers attributed religious discrimination as reasons they vacated their posts.
In not too distant past, I was participating in a workshop organised for teachers by an education, child and women centred NGO. The venue was the ICT centre in Savelugu.
The participants, majority of whom were Muslims used the snack recess which happened shortly after midday to do the Zuhr prayer (the fourth prayer observed by Muslims on daily basis; but if counted from midnight it is the second prayer of the day) and later the launch break for the mid afternoon prayer.
It was at the launch break that the founder of the NGO, a very good friend of mine walked up to me who was also performing ablution to join my brothers in faith at a mosque just across the street from the venue. He said something that altered the way I viewed him and his organisation which I thought was doing great in terms of empowering young girls to get education.
He said to me, "Baba, you see why I will never employ your people (referring to Muslims). When you offer them employment they will use all your productive hours to engage in religious activities" he literally shouted at me in his 'Cameroonian' accent.
There was no need anyone explaining me to that my friend was incensed by the fact that participants of his workshop were expending time, never mind if it was recess time, to profess a major requirement of their Islamic faith.
Stunned by what I just heard, I did a quick head count of his staff as I journeyed to the 'masjid' (mosque). I noticed for the first time since getting involved with the organisation during my national service days in 2015 that, all his staffs were Christians, a fact that showed my friend was actually walking his talk. Up to this day, when you walk into the head office of the organisation located around Tamale Islamic Senior High School, you will find no Muslim among his staff.
Ironically, a chunk of beneficiaries of the organisation's interventions are Muslim women and children. What my experience revealed actually is that, no matter the qualification and experiences of a Muslim job seeker, a Christian stands a better chance of getting recruited into the NGO.
This is an experience shared by Kumbundoo Iddrisu, a Journalist/blogger|saganitvonline.com