CAIRO - Facing blatant religious discrimination in work fields, a growing number of Australian Muslims are changing their names to angelical ones to increase their chances of employment.
"It's sad many Muslims feel compelled to do this," Muslim leader and Islamic Friendship Association founder Keysar Trad told Sunday Telegraph on October 7.
That message is unless you do take on an Anglo name you won't get past the front door.
Trad said the "sad" trend has become increasingly prevalent with some legally change their name by deed poll while others adopt "new' monikers for their resumes.
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.
He added that 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.
Eddie Chehab, 49, from Drummoyne, was one of Muslim immigrants who had to change his name thirty years ago.
Changing his name from Mohammed to Eddie, he said that it was urged 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," Chehab said.
But a lot of the younger generations (today) are changing theirs for employment reasons.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
The growing trend of anglicizing Muslim names was causing growing concerns among government officials.
"There are many people who you come across who talk about the fact they anglicize their name for employment purposes or because people found it too hard to pronounce or it was foreign," Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke said.
"There is definitely evidence to suggest that people do this because they feel it improves or enhances their opportunities to gain work."
Social analyst David Chalke agrees.
Chalke confirmed that 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.
The founder of the Islamic Friendship Association warned that the recent Sydney anti-American film riots would only exacerbate the problem.
"Unfortunately the protests will have an impact with some employers, Trad said.
I appeal for those employers to treat people on merit.