Crimes, World NEWS


Saudi called ‘terrorist’ by Canadian coworkers

Published by onlines on July 24, 2008

Company ordered to pay $11,000 for discrimination

A Saudi-Canadian man was awarded $11,000 (10,900 U.S. dollars) by a human rights tribunal in western Canada after his co-workers accused him of helping to organize the 9/11 attacks, press reports said on Thursday.

Ghassan Asad, who moved to Canada from Saudi Arabia in 1998, was questioned by police in British Columbia after colleagues at a high-tech firm reported that he had visited New York and Washington a few weeks before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

One co-worker at the Vancouver-based Kinexus Bioinformatics Corp. even went so far to interpret the fact that Asad had given up candy as a fasting ritual, the Canadian Press (CP) news agency reported.

The police spent three days questioning Asad, a self-proclaimed “devout Muslim,” but no charges were laid.

The trouble started when Asad went on a holiday in August 2001 to celebrate receiving his Canadian citizenship. His trip included stops in Toronto, Buffalo, Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Detroit, the Vancouver-based Province newspaper reported.

When he returned to work, the rights tribunal report said Asad started to feel he was being made the target of suspicion, with some coworkers going so far as to suggest he was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

According to the Province, one coworker allegedly said: “Isn’t it suspicious that Ghassan is Arab and Muslim, and he went to New York and Washington?”

Asad was also told by his bosses that police were called for a legitimate reason saying he resembled the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks, CP reported. It was later determined the complaint to police had originated from the family member of one of Asad’s coworkers.

Unable to cope with the mounting stress, Asad took leave from work.

The CEO of the company, Dr. Steven Pelech, told the Province that management tried to assure Asad that they did not feel he was a threat, even giving Asad a promotion and a raise.

Pelech said Asad was eventually terminated because he was no longer performing his work duties satisfactorily.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the company’s management engaged in “improper conduct” that had a “serious and substantial impact” on Asad, and awarded him approximately $11,000.

Pelech told the Province newspaper that Kinexus will likely appeal the decision, while Asad said he has still not found new employment.

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