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  • Subhan Tariq, Esq

Discriminatory Policies of Banks against Muslims



Being a target of discrimination can be distressing and lead to poor physical and mental well-being. Muslims have a history of facing discrimination in laws and regulations enacted by the government. However, they are still experiencing biased policies and practices because of their religion and ethnicity.


Recently, a letter signed by dozens of lawmakers was released for the head of US banking regulators urging them to reconsider their biased policies against Muslims and communities of color. Addressing the complaints of discrimination, the letter included, ‘Countless US individuals, businesses and charities have been victims of discriminatory policies and practices that appear to limit their access to financial services because of their religion and national origin.’


People who are Muslim immigrants or belonging to different races are denied access to banking facilities due to discrimination. A Muslim woman in New York complained against Citibank in 2019 when the bank allegedly denied her request to open a savings account, claiming that they needed to investigate her husband first, who has an Arabic last name, giving no reason why they needed to do so. This complaint was filed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) with New York City’s Human Rights Commission.


In 2014, The Los Angeles Times reported the grievances of dozens of bank clients of middle eastern descent who received letters from banks of closure of their accounts without providing a valid reason to close their bank accounts.


Many Muslim individuals have complained that their financial transaction via PayPal and Venmo has been flagged. Venmo flags transaction that contains the word Iran or Syria, which is according to their policy which is due to sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.


These are some of the countless stories like these where Muslims have to go through unnecessary resistance to enjoy financial services. “Banking as a charity/nonprofit and ‘banking while Muslim’ are not illegal and must stop being treated as such,” lawmakers wrote in the letter. “As elected officials, it is our responsibility to amplify the voices of our constituents who feel powerless in the face of big banks and unaccountable regulators.

Banking discrimination is against the law, which grants equal rights. Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act, in particular, establishes that certain rights are to be guaranteed to all citizens of the US and protected against impairment by non-government and state discrimination. More specifically, section 1981 grants the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, and to enjoy equal benefits of all laws for the security of person and property as is enjoyed by white citizens.

When facing such discrimination, keep in mind that you have the right to sue banks that limit your access due to your religion, color, and ethnicity. Tariq Law helps consumers in fighting against such bias and claim equal rights and opportunities. Talk to our attorneys at info@tariqlaw.com if you are willing to stand against the injustice against you.


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