A MALAYSIAN man is suing an employee association in the United States for discrimination, after he was reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for flying a Malaysian flag.
Munir Zanial, an ethnically Indian Muslim who is an engineer with Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit Aerosystems last September held a gathering beside a lake to celebrate the end of Ramadan and Malaysia’s Independence Day.
Some present at the lake reported Munal to the Spirit Boeing Employees’ Association (SBEA) which led to an investigation by the FBI. They had complained about a “group dressed in Muslim garb” and “an American flag desecrated with ISIS symbols,” according to local newspaper The Wichita Eagle.
Around 45 guests reportedly attended the gathering including some women wearing hijabs.
While the FBI investigation was dropped by January, Munal subsequently learned that his membership of the SBEA had been restricted.
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas filed a legal complaint on behalf of Munal on the basis he had been discriminated against due to his race, ethnicity and religion.
“He was in a situation where he was celebrating the end of Ramadan and the 60th anniversary of Malaysian independence, there was absolutely no basis for assuming anything negative was going on in broad daylight at the SBEA’s lake,” said Lauren Bonds, legal director at the ACLU.
“It’s just illogical how something so small snowballed into this and the only way you can explain this is prejudice and discrimination,” she said.
“He is concerned that the investigation could affect his lawful permanent residence status,” according to the suit filed by the ACLU Kansas.
“He also feels distress and humiliation based on this experience of being singled-out because of his ethnicity, race and religion.”