The Journal of History     Spring 2005    TABLE OF CONTENTS


Experience Speaks: 
Beware of Marriage to an Arab/Muslim

By A. L. Ghannam
March 17, 2005

The following is a global message for all people who are concerned about our mutual understanding of what is happening in the Middle East today.  This is a true story, and it happened to someone very dear to me--my mother.

I hope it resonates well on the fact that America has no diversity values any longer, and on an international scope, all of us as human beings must be aware of the cynical deviousness this story entails. 

Eleven years ago my family was presented with a very diabolical situation.  My mother, Wendy Ghannam, had been a federal civil servant spending nearly 18 years of her aduilt life working for the United States Government.  Her last position was in administration at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, DC (USAID).  In 1994, agency management cornered my mother in a dark security area in the agency where she worked, and told her that she no longer would be employed by the U.S. Government.  They told her face-to-face that she was no longer welcome in the office; all of this happened because of her 25-year marriage to my father, a man originally born in Palestine and an Arab/Muslim.   The agency admitted all of this to her.

In 1994 life was different for all of us as Americans.  No one could fathom that Bush would ascend the White House and blame Muslims for flying airplanes into the World Trade Center in NYC, or the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C.  That happened in 2001-- a full six years after my mother's experience with the U.S. Government.  However, management officials at USAID informed my mother that she was not to be trusted, that she was indeed a terrorist and her husband was probably one as well, and that she no longer even represented being an American, because she forfeited all these rights once she had married my father. Agency managers even told her that if she complained or decided to litigate for her job-based discrimination rights, she could even forget about finding work of any kind inside the National Capital Area for the rest of her life!!

In 1996, my mother was terminated from her career inside the U.S. Government's Civil Service.  When she complained and made discrimination allegations, she was overlooked by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Washington, D.C.  They refused to investigate her file and told her to "go away."  Since then, my mother has argued her case before the EEOC, in a precedent setting case which she won though never awarded any financial remuneration, and lastly against the U.S. Government, on which today, she sits on a legal threshold documented court case in U.S. Federal Court in Washington, DC.  This repesents her final option in seeking the vindication she so rightly deserves as an aggrieved spouse of an Arab/Muslim.

However, the U.S. Justice Department has entered into the picture now.  They claim that she has no recourse in the federal system to sue for her employment rights.  They say she never brought these allegations forward in 1996, so her claims today--according to them--are untimely.  The fact is that my mother was threatened if she sought any recourse in the EEO arena in 1995.  My mother was even physically threatened if she ever spoke about what USAID caused her to endure personally and professionally.

Attorney General Janet Reno afforded the entire U.S. government arena with the clout to investigate and eradicate any American spouse married to an Arab or Muslim since 1993.  Thus, it only seems likely that the U.S. Justice Department today is still trying to cover its own actions.  Almost 800 spouses lost their federal employment rights as my mother did in the mid-1990s due to their marriages to Arabs/Musims.  Thus, my mother's situation was not an isolated incident.

For the United States Government to proclaim that it stands steadfastly in support of all countries seeking democracy today is an oxymoron when the story of my mother should be proclaimed for all to read around the world.  The fact is that the United States Government has never cared for the Muslim world whatsoever--it even helped to sell the community out starting with its assistance to Britain with the Balfour Declaration signing in 1917.  America's diplomatic corps arena  has never engaged itself honestly and professionally inside the Arab world either.  There are few if any Arab speakers, linguists, and interpreters handling these much needed assignments who are employed by Uncle Sam today.  Uncle Sam has systematically eradicated these people from the working ranks since the mid-1980's.

Therefore, if a woman marries into the Arab culture today she is not considered an American any longer.  She is considerd an outcast. Her ability to share diversity values and inform earnestly and honestly on the religion/cultural fronts (which are sorely needed in the Washington, DC establishment) is not warranted and is considered to be a threatening menace. Americans may want to desperately reconnect with the Muslim world at all costs and get reacquainted on an honest footing, but the U.S. Government is playing with a time bomb, and is acting like an Uncle Tom in the process.  The only way one would notice these things would be if one were so impacted, as my mother has been for these last eleven years.

As the U.S. Court system wades through my mother's litigation paperwork, the judge will be surprised to see what the woman endured while working at USAID.  I am sure it will also be embarassed that an agency so highly touted as USAID has ever had the audacity to readily admit that Muslims/Arabs are no longer welcome in the employment ranks there--especially the spouses who married into the culture prior to their employment at the agency.  In retrospect, my mother's loss has been superceded by her devoted family and friends who stand beside her daily, as she proves the diabolical circumstances under which she worked for so many years.  Yet, in my own mind I know that the loss exemplified here is for the U.S. Government, and the American people as well; as my mother would have been an award-winning civil servant for the common good of all America--if she had ever been given the chance to return to the workforce with ergonomatically correct equipment to solve her disability problem.  But America robbed her--and in the process, robbed itself!!


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