UK Muslims face worst job discrimination

24th Dec 2014

Elham Asaad Buaras

Comprehensive research into figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found Muslims are facing the worst employment discrimination of any group in the UK Labour market.

Using data from the ONS’ Labour Force Survey of more than 500,000 people the research published in the Social Science Journal study found that Muslims in the UK had the lowest chance of employment. Race made little difference to the figures.

The report found Muslims were the most disadvantaged in terms of employment prospects out of 14 ethno-religious groupings in the UK and that the “penalties” for being Muslim deteriorated when applying for professional jobs.

Researchers Dr Nabil Khattab and Professor Ron Johnston found Muslim men were up to 76 per cent less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and with the same qualifications. And Muslim women were up to 65 per cent less likely to be employed than white Christian counterparts.

Dr Khattab, of Bristol University, said the situation was “likely to stem from placing Muslims collectively at the lowest stratum within the country’s racial or ethno-cultural system due to growing Islamophobia and hostility against them.

“They are perceived as disloyal and as a threat rather than just as a disadvantaged minority,” he added. “Within this climate, many employers will be discouraged from employing qualified Muslims, especially if there are others from their own groups or others from less threatening groups who can fill these jobs.”

For women, Muslim Pakistanis and a “Muslim other” group were 65 percent less likely to have a job, with Muslim Indians 55 percent, Muslim Bangladeshis 51 percent and white Muslims 43 percent less likely. For men, the “Muslim other” group was 76 percent less likely to be in work, followed by Muslim Bangladeshis (66%), white Muslims (64%), Muslim Pakistanis (59%) and Muslim Indians (37%).

White British men and women of no religion were, respectively, 20 and 25 percent less likely to have a job than Christians. Black Christians with Caribbean origins were 54 percent and 48 per cent less likely.

The only ethno-religious group with better work prospects than white British Christians were British Jews, with women and men 29 and 15 percent more likely to be employed.

Of those in work, the researchers found only 23 percent and 27 percent of Muslim Bangladeshis and Muslim Pakistanis, respectively, had a salaried job. White British Jews had the highest rates, with 64 percent in salaried jobs, followed by Hindu Indians and white Christian Irish on 53 and 51 percent respectively. White British Christians, white British of no religion and black Christian Africans were all above 40 percent.

Dr Khattab added: “The main components of this discrimination are skin colour and culture or religion. But colour is dynamic, which means white colour can be valued in one case, but devalued when associated with Muslims. Equally, having a dark skin colour – Hindu Indians, for example – is not always associated with any significant penalty.”

The latest research is supported by other investigations into Muslim discrimination in the market place.

A 2004 research by the BBC found that the white job candidates – John Andrews and Jenny Hughes – were successful in getting interviews 23 percent of the time while for Muslim applicants with the names Fatima Khan and Nasser Hanif, the success rate was just 9 percent.

In France, a Christian citizen is two-and-a-half times more likely to get called for a job interview than an equally qualified Muslim candidate, according to a 2010 research by political science professor David Laitin.

Laitin used the faux resumes to apply for 300 advertised job openings, making Khadija and Aurélie compete for one set of positions and Marie and Aurélie compete for another. For every 38 call backs received by Khadija, Marie got 100 call backs – two-and-a-half times more than Khadija.

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