When she was working as a nurse at a Washington, D.C., hospital, Samar Al Rayyis of Saudi Arabia recalls that a patient abruptly asked her, "Are you a terrorist?"
Al Rayyis told her story today at a panel titled, "From the Victim's Mouth," which was part of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's annual convention being held in Washington through Monday.
"I am taking care of you, for God's sake, the whole day and you are asking me if I am a terrorist," Al Rayyis recalled of her first thought.
"I said, `Excuse me, I am not a terrorist,'" said Al Rayyis, who earned her nursing degrees in the United States and is living in Virginia.
She told about her ongoing difficulties in renewing her work permit, despite the critical shortage of nurses in the United States.
"I am sure this is because I am from an Arabic descent," she said, adding that she hasn't even been able to get an interim work permit while waiting.
The tie-up, she says, prevents her from accepting one of several nursing job offers from hospitals. " I can't work. And I haven't done anything illegal," she said.
The ADC held the panel to highlight difficulties encountered by people of Arab heritage or who are Muslim. [Link]
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