Growing Hope for the Hussein Name
By Steven G. Vegh

For years, Hank Karzun, a Virginia Beach engineer, hasn't used the name he has in common with the next president of the United States: Hussein…
An American president with a Muslim-sounding name could bring inspiration, even relief, to thousands in the United States whose Arab or Muslim names incur anything from wisecracks to discrimination.
"You tell them your name is Hussein, it's not well-received," said Karzun, who came from Syria to the United States in the 1960s as a student.
When folks hear his full name, Hussein Saleh Karzun, "the first thing they think of is Saddam," that is, the ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Karzun said. "People say, 'Are you related to him?'"
For some Americans, unfamiliarity with the Muslim world, fear of Islam after the 9/11 terror attacks and the war-crimes manhunt for Hussein and cronies such as "Chemical Ali" put Muslim names in a negative light. . .
"Names are often used as triggers for discrimination and bias, particularly in the workplace," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group. "It's one of those issues that's fairly constant."



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.