FRUSTRATED Muslims are anglicising their names to avoid religious discrimination when applying for work.
According to Islamic leaders, some legally change their name by deed poll while others adopt “new’ monikers for their resumes.
Muslim leader and Islamic Friendship Association founder Keysar Trad said the “sad” trend has become increasingly prevalent – and the recent Sydney riots would only exacerbate the problem.
“Many people are changing from Mohammed to Michael, Ahmed to Allan, Haroun to Harold and others change Mohammed to Jim, even though there is no relationship between the two,” he said.
“It’s sad many Muslims feel compelled to do this. That message is unless you do take on an Anglo name you won’t get past the front door.
“Unfortunately the protests will have an impact with some employers and I appeal for those employers to treat people on merit.”
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Mr Trad said people with traditional Muslim names often experience blatant religious discrimination when applying for a job.
“I’ve heard of many cases where people have applied for a job using their Muslim name and not getting an interview, then making a phone call and giving a different name and being called back for an interview,” he said.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke said migrants westernising their Christian names to increase their chances of employment is a growing and concerning trend. “There are many people who you come across who talk about the fact they anglicise their name for employment purposes or because people found it too hard to pronounce or it was foreign,” Ms Szoke said.
“There is definitely evidence to suggest that people do this because they feel it improves or enhances their opportunities to gain work.”
Eddie Chehab, 49, from Drummoyne, said he decided to change his name from Mohammed to Eddie for employment reasons and because his customers struggled to pronounce his name.
“I noticed how hard it was for people to say my name correctly, which is why I changed it but a lot of the younger generations (today) are changing theirs for employment reasons,” Mr Chehab said.
Social analyst David Chalke said it has been scientifically proven that your chances of employment are greater if you have a name which sounds acceptable to your potential employer.
“We all tend to hire people like ourselves,” he said.