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UK Arabs face ‘shocking’ job discrimination

A job interview taking place [Amtec Photos/Flickr]
A job interview taking place [Amtec Photos/Flickr]

Ethnic minority Britons face “shocking” discrimination in the labour market, with those originating from Muslim-majority countries facing the greatest obstacles, new UK research has revealed today.

According to a study by the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Britons originating from the Middle East and North Africa have to submit 90 per cent more applications than the average white British citizens. Similarly, those from south Asia, principally Pakistanis, had to submit 70 per cent more applications, with black Britons – in particular Nigerians – up to 80 per cent more. The study shows little change from levels recorded in the late 1960s.

Co-author of the study and emeritus fellow of Nuffield College, Professor Anthony Heath, said of the findings:

The absence of any real decline in discrimination against black British and people of Pakistani background is a disturbing finding, which calls into question the effectiveness of previous policies. Ethnic inequality remains a burning injustice and there needs to be a radical rethink about how to tackle it.

As part of the study, researchers sent almost 3,200 applications to both manual and non-manual jobs – including software engineers, marketing, chefs and shop assistants – advertised on a popular recruitment platform between November 2016 and December 2017. The survey found that while those of ethnic minorities suffered significantly, those originally from western Europe and the US were treated almost as well as the majority group.

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The researchers added that the high levels of discrimination towards those from countries with a sizeable Muslim population echoed “strong anti-Muslim attitudes recorded in recent surveys”.

“The persistent gaps in call-backs found for more visible and culturally distant minorities, regardless of the occupation considered or the information included in the application, suggest that employers may simply read no further as soon as they see a Middle East-sounding or African-sounding name,” Dr Valentina Di Stasio, co-author and an assistant professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said.

The study marked the first that time that the experiences of Britons originating from the Arab world were included, so it could not be ascertained whether the levels of discrimination they faced had changed over time.

The UK has witnessed a rise in anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric in recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the Brexit vote to leave the European Union. In October, statistics released by the Home Office revealed that religious hate crime rocketed by 40 per cent in a year across England and Wales, with over half of all attacks targeting Muslims.

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