The Interview


The Interview
by divaneh

When he came out of the lift his sight made me uncomfortable. He was not a midget but he was not far from it either. He hardly reached below my chest but his head was even bigger than mine. With a long messy beard, a loose jacket, no tie, and a white shirt badly tucked into his loose trousers he was every bit a Muslim jihadist. You could just picture him jumping up and down outside the US embassy in London, burning US flag and yelling down with the USA or holding banners outside the British Parliament demanding the imposition of the Sharia law in the Netherland upon Girt Wilders visit to the UK.

I felt awkward as I felt that I had not managed to hide my disapproval of him. I offered him a chair and he sat there with his feet dangling in the air just like a little child whose been taken to a restaurant. Looking at him I realised that I had indeed failed to hide my displeasure and now he equally seemed tense.

I had read his CV and talked to him on the phone prior to the interview and he was my second choice. Could I now punish him for his beliefs? I scolded myself for being so unfair and biased. How could you claim yourself to be a believer in equal opportunity if you cannot conduct it in practice? You came to this country and this society has treated you as one of its own, now it’s your turn to treat others as equal. Let’s see your fairness in action now.

I regained my control and embarrassed of my initial patronising thoughts, smiled and cracked a few jokes to make him more relaxed.  He smiled back and seemed to feel more comfortable. He had finished his degree in IT more than a year ago and had been working in a restaurant since. This job could be his entry into the professional world and my Middle Eastern name may have had given him the hope that he would receive a more favourable treatment, or at least an equal treatment.

The interview went well and he managed to hold to the position of the second choice all the way through until almost the end when I asked him if he had any other question for me. He thanked me for having made everything clear already and said:

- I only have one question left, is there a prayer room in the building brother?

- No, there is none. I replied.

- In that case can I say my daily prayers in the office?

I was much more in control now, so smiled and said of course, that would be no problem at all, and at the same time thought that there would be no way that I would have him there.

I tried to help you but you just can’t let that happen. You must shove your Islam in everyone’s face. No, I cannot have you pointing your bum at the sky everyday bowing to your own stupidity. This would cause friction here. You will be wasting if not stealing the time for which you get paid to work, and no, you cannot do it during your lunch break, that is for you to eat and have the stamina to work. And most importantly, the people of this country have defeated the evil of religion and banned the display of religious symbols in any place of work in the UK, only for you to come here and insist on your daily humility rituals and resurgence of the evil of religion. There is a good reason that you work in a kitchen in an Indian restaurant and that will not change soon.

The position was eventually offered to my first choice, an Iranian who had changed his religion from Islam to Christianity. I asked him what made him to change his religion and he said that he found Christianity more in line with his ideas of a true religion but we both knew that he was lying.


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more from divaneh

Dear Mehrban

by divaneh on

That is the perfect solution. I am however not sure if it is permissible. I know when you are travelling you may leave your prayer till later but don't know the rule for work. Religion is a real dilemma on all sides and prevents assimilation indeed. In the UK there are some Asian Muslims who have been here for few decades and still cannot talk English.


Very interesting blog and very interesting dilemas on all sides

by Mehrban on


I thought it is totally fine to postpone Namaz Zohr and perform a Namaz Ghaza in its place at night in addition to the Maghreb Asha.   What is wrong with that?    Well, I guess that way you can't shove anything into anyone's face. 


Dear IranFirst

by divaneh on

Thanks for reading and your comment. I think we share the same view when it comes to some of the fanatical Muslims who have immigrated to the West. They have ruined their own countries by following the rules of Islam and now after escaping that misery, instead of learning a lesson they want to ruin a few societies who have managed to push the religion back to its place and create equal opportunities for all. They come here and instead of learning the secret of the West's successful progress; they open Halal shops and import Imams to this society. What the hell these Imams know apart from a few sugar coated tales about killing and plunder for god? What do they do but brain washing the young and causing segregation and in some cases hate in their audience? It is not very long since British Muslims bombed the underground in London and killed many Londoners.

Followers of almost every other religion assimilate in this society, but not radical Muslims. Then they think it is a conspiracy against Islam, pointing their fingers at anyone except the guilty self. I hope their next generation would stop the hateful existence but I doubt it.

I have read some of your other comments and have found you a very knowledgeable contributor.



Thank U Divaneh, Good choice

by IranFirst on

Thank yoiu for sharing, and I agree with your choice, based on the reason you mentioned. A person's religion, belongs to his home, not a place of work. If Muslims like him, do not want to adapt publicly (cloths, beard, etc.) to the country they have migrated to (some, like the one's in the picture want to change the country's culture, and impose Islam on others, as Muslims do), they should not expect much from the people of that country. Respect is a two way street. If they are really uncomfortable adapting to West and 21st century, maybe they need to go back to the miserable Muslim lands they escaped from.

I will give you one more example of insinsitivity (to other people) of these idiot religious Muslims in West.  I had a co-worker who was from one of the Arab countries. Every day , before his prayer (Namaz), at work (which he took long brakes), he would come to the company's restroom and wash his smelly FEET (netween the toes, etc.), in the sink (where other people had to wash their hands and face)


Thanks for your comments

by divaneh on

Thanks for reading and your valuable comments.

MPD Jaan,

It must be very different. Lifts in here go down as well as up.

Dear Yolanda,

The other guy was from Bangladesh. The Iranian guy in my view had changed his religion for asylum purposes. Many Iranian Muslims change religion and then claim that if they go back to Iran they will be prosecuted. Many become Christians to have the support of church and the Christian groups. I should make it clear that it was a few weeks after he commenced his position that I found out about his conversion. I do not ask people questions about their personal beliefs in the interviews.

Dear Ali,

I believe that people private beliefs are for their private and should not be brought to work. The case of Muslim prayers at work in my view is nothing more than a loophole in the British law. The law in this country prohibits the display of any religious symbol at work by employer or the employees. A person can legally be prosecuted for wearing a cross if the cross can be seen by others. Muslim prayer is even a stronger display of religious sentiment although it is not classed as symbol and therefore not prosecuted.

In my view people who come to live in this society have to respect its rules and norms. It is not the society that has to be adapted to these people but the immigrants who need to adapt to the society. I think they need to be confronted when they contravene the rules or their action encourages segregation. I wish to see them assimilated in the society but they must make concessions for that to happen.

Azarbanoo Geraami,

I agree that office is a place of work and private and religious beliefs have no place at work. It could cause friction and adversely affect the business.

Dear Raoul,

Thanks for reading. I have to add the problems of preparation for pray (vozu) and feet in the sink to what you have mentioned.

Daneshjoo Aziz

Thanks for reading and your comment.

Hamsade Ghadimi,

I have to make it clear that it is not the person's religion that worries me but the conduct of religious duties at the place of work. I am not the only one who would not like to see religious activities at work and I am sure that many other employers discriminate against such applicants. As I explained to Ali, I wish to see these people assimilated in the society but they need to be more receptive of the host country's values. I think someone disappearing every Friday afternoon is just no acceptable. Why can't they move the Friday prayers to Saturday?

With the Mormon guy I have to say that anyone who drinks Dr Pepper cannot be a proper team worker.

Dear Faramarz,

I agree that our value system guides our decisions but I have to say that I try to put the business first in such decisions. When hiring I look for a person who can mix with others and adapt the shared values. These people's inability to adapt to the society does not work in their favour. As I explained to Yolanda, I keep the personal beliefs out of such matters unless the other party wants to make it an issue, as happened in this case. I also agree on 80% skills and qualifications and 20% personal traits. I however have to add that in most cases a few people show the 80% and it is the 20% that differentiates the winner.

Ali P.


by Ali P. on

Sorry; wasn't sure what you meant.

Don't know enough about Islamic duties to tell ya.


Ali P.

P.S. The Muslims who 'live &let live', you never hear about, because they don't make the news. You only hear about the others :-)


Ali P.

by Raoul1955 on

It wasn't a personal issue.  I wondered if muslims could conduct their prayers differently, but they can't.

I wish muslims would follow your advice of 'live and let live,' but they can't do that either.  :-)


Ali P.

Raoul: Live & Let live

by Ali P. on

If you can do your private prayer/meditation/Satan-worshipping/nap/ soulsearching/pervertive fantasizing/nosepicking ...etc. without bothering us- well, without bothering ME- I don't have any problem with you!


An Immigrant Moment

by Faramarz on



Thank you Divaneh Jaan.

I have been in similar situations and like you have struggled with these issues. I believe that your story is really more about you and your value system than it is about the applicant.

When an immigrant moves up the corporate ladder and is in a position to make big decisions including who to hire (especially in this economy), we end up going through a soul searching exercise. Do we hire the Muslim guy who calls us a “Brother”, although we know that he hates our guts because he sees people like us as traitors to his fate? Do we hire the fellow Iranian guy who is not sure if he should say “Hello” or “Salam” because he doesn’t know how we would react? Or do we hire the Russian guy who keeps talking about his Iranian friends and how much he loves Tahdig?

My take on this is that 80-90% of the decision should have to do with the qualifications of the applicant and the rest is about being a “Fit” with the department culture and values.

hamsade ghadimi

good blog divaneh.  we

by hamsade ghadimi on

good blog divaneh.  we hired a muslim faithful from south asia.  it was a unanimous decision by everyone in our group including a rabid pro-israeli republican jew. 

the new employee blends in well (wears a crisp clothes with a tie on most days), a good conversationalist, and culturally sensible guy.  i'm sure that he prays in his office with the door closed (he doesn't flaunt it).  he even attended (a few times) our "happy hour" ritual where we imbibe with alcoholic drinks.  he no longer attends because we like to have happy hours on fridays and he likes to go to prayer in a mosque on fridays at lunchtime and work from home the rest of the day.  we resisted our boss's request to change our happy hour day to accommodate him.

i think that there is a) a wide spectrum of the faithful, b) it depends how much the immigrant has assimilated into the culture (not that he has to abandon his own identity or faith), c) and different standards of acceptance between the u.s. and europe.

all in all, he's a great muslim coleague. btw, we just hired a mormon faithful.  he seems to have much more rigid ways of thinking than our muslim coleague.  the mormon does attend our happy hours and drinks dr. pepper.


Thank you for sharing

by daneshjoo on



Ali P.

by Raoul1955 on

I didn't know that muslims can pray while sitting in a chair and in a meditative manner.   Are you certain that TRUE msulims can pray without performing calisthenics while facing Mecca?


Divaneh, I would do the same

by Azarbanoo on

As I did as a supervisor.  I did not permit one of my Arab moslem to pray in the office when he requested. later on I found he found a secluded place in the basement of the building and does his daily prayers.

Ali P.

What if...

by Ali P. on

He'd be  saying his prayers, in a quiet corner, in the office, during lunch?

Can one say his prayers,in any fashion, without being accused of "shoving his religion in everyone's face"?



by yolanda on

Thank you, Divaneh, for sharing!

The last paragraph is kind of shocking to me!

I was wondering what is the "true" reason for the Iranian guy to change his religion? Is that because he is trying to avoid the discrimination? trying to blend into a western society? easier to get a job?

The guy who got the job is Iranian! What is the nationality of the 2nd choice guy? Indian Moslem?

Multiple Personality Disorder

Things are quite differnet in the USA

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

For example, over here we call a 'lift', an 'elevator'.