Communications advisor at Sannum & Bergestuen, Muslim Umar Ashraf, is tired of being “The Muslim”.
“Norwegian Muslims carry an extra layer of fear of being branded as opponents of freedom”, writes Ashraf in a column in NRK.
He believes it is time to “update the image of our Norwegian community”, so that Muslims in Norway feel a greater sense of belonging.
Ashraf claims to have been a public voice for years to raise issues related to diversity, inclusion and racism. But he does not feel that the employer has supported him in a good enough way.
“During these years, I have not always felt that my employer’s have my back when I participate in the public debate. Many times, on the contrary, I have felt that I should restrain myself, hold back a little. Talk a little less about experiences related to being a minority, so the employer doesn’t have to deal with the noise and the messages that I should lose my job as a result of my statements,” writes Ashraf.
In the aftermath of the study which shows that 43 percent of Norwegian Muslims feel left out in Norwegian society, Ashraf decided to do something.
The result was a mini-guide for employers about Ramadan in the workplace.
This guide will deal with what surveys claim are problems for Muslims in Norwegian workplaces.
It concerns awkward hiring processes, experiences of being passed over in internal promotions, encounters with prejudice and incitement from customers and clients, and prejudiced comments among colleagues. Harassment related to the use of the hijab, confrontations about Islam – particularly related to the position of women, and discussions about the use of alcohol and food rules.
“In connection with employment processes, several report experiences of being asked in-depth questions related to their Muslim identity or personal questions that are irrelevant to the work to be carried out. Some also have experience of job rejections that are directly justified by wearing the hijab. Much of this is outright illegal,” writes Ashraf.
The communications advisor also claims that it is still relatively unusual for Norwegian businesses to show solidarity with and support for Norwegian Muslims on the occasion of Ramadan.
“Let us together ensure that there is no longer any doubt; Norway must be the best country in the world in which to be yourself. Is your business up to the challenge?” concludes Ashraf.