By Elham Asaad Buaras
Employers and landlords in Bristol are discriminating against Muslim job applicants and would-be tenants, a BBC undercover investigation was revealed last month.
Inside Out West undercover sting found Muslim job applicants were four times less likely to be offered a vacancy advertised in shop windows than their non-Muslim counterpart.
Two Inside Out West undercover reporters posed as job applicants and letting tenants for the investigation. Both men were of similar age, background, of white ethnicity and presented equivalent CVs – the only difference being that one is a Muslim.
To make his faith clear the Muslim reporter, Zoltan , used the name Mohammad and wore Middle Eastern clothes.
The filming shows the Muslim reporter being told jobs had already been taken and denied flats he had been promised.
At a fast food outlet Mohammad is told to leave his CV, five minutes later his fellow reporter Ian is given an application form and told to fill it in straight away.
Something similar appears to happen at a café. Mohammad is told they are only accepting CVs at the moment while Ian is immediately offered a trial shift.
When the café manager spots Mohammad through the café’s window he tells Ian: “Do not tell him. I’ve given you a trial shift. If you bump into him in the street and he wants to talk to you do not tell him because he’s just given me his CV and I told him that I won’t be making a decision until next week. So don’t tell him.”
The manager of the café later said he was not discriminating against Mohammad but that he had more in common with Ian and struck up a better rapport.
At a supermarket branch, Ian and Mohammad both speak to the same member of staff who consults the manager at the store about jobs advertised.
Ian is handed application form for a team leader role for which only five minutes earlier Mohammad was told would be unavailable until Christmas.
In total the pair applied for 40 jobs across the city ranging from delivering newspapers to managing shops. Mohammad was successful in getting three interviews while Ian secured 13 interviews and was offered one job – over four times more than Mohammad.
It is a similar story when they applied to rent flats in the city. In total they viewed 10 flats. Neither was successful for three of them but Ian was offered five flats despite Zoltan being promised them first.
Mohammad only managed to secure two and, on one occasion, is called ‘strange’ by a prospective landlord and lied to by another.
One landlady, however, does stay true to her word and lets the flat to the Muslim reporter because she had promised it to him first.
Reflecting on his experience Zoltan aka Mohammad said: “I feel it’s an important discussion that’s not really been had yet. This is not racism but it’s important and we need to start talking about this.
“Because of the way Muslims are portrayed in the media, unfortunately this has led to this undercurrent of discrimination and it needs to be opened up.
“We need to start speaking about it because if we keep quiet it’s just going to embed further and become worse.”
In 2004 BBC Radio Five Live researchers advertised in commerce, sales, the media and leisure found that candidates with Muslim names were nearly three times less likely to get an interview as those with English-sounding names .
Researchers found that the white candidates – John Andrews and Jenny Hughes – were successful in getting interviews 23% of the time while Fatima Khan and Nasser Hanif, the Muslim candidates, the success rate was just 9%.