Forest for the Trees

The Muslim American Society has been organizing people to boycott Fleet Bank for allegedly discriminating against Muslims. Based on the evidence they, MAS, have presented, I think it’s important to bring any impropriety out and to use not only criminal sanction, but also market sanction.


I do think MAS is doing a good thing, but I think they are missing a larger project. I bank with Fleet and have a very “Muslim” name (along the lines of Muhammad, Ali, Husayn, Fatima, Khadija, etc.), and have had no problem whatsoever with Fleet, in fact quite the opposite. MAS has done some background research to indicate that Fleet has a pattern of discrimination against people of color; after establishing this pattern MAS pitches the concern as a religious one, rather than a racial one.

I understand their constituency is organized around religion, but by not organizing along racial lines as well, they miss a larger political tool, both in terms of applying pressure to Fleet and making Muslims and Muslim organizations part of a greater community. Their current approach keeps Muslims in an immigrants’ ghetto. The other point that seems to be missed is that Fleet’s proven pattern of discrimination, and alleged, is that it seems to be directed at immigrants, and immigrants’ rights coalitions are incredibly powerful right now.

Much like CAIR, I don’t always agree with MAS, but this is an important right they are going after, I’m just not sure they are doing it in such a way as to benefit US Muslims in the long-term.