Bangladeshi-American Drops “Mohammad” from his name due to fears of discrimination
by Lablu Ansar, Weekly Thikana, 3 January 2002.
Translated from Bangla by Moinuddin Naser.
Though regrettable, it’s true that one Bangladeshi-American has abandoned “Mohammad” from his name through an affidavit. The man, formerly named Mohammad Reza, changed his name to “Reza Hayat,” because, he said, he was victimized because his name was Mohammad.
Mohammad Reza is 37 years old, and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he is a successful businessman. Mohammad Reza came from an aristocratic family of Chapainababganj.
He told this correspondent over telephone from Tulsa that there were many reasons he made this decision. The most formidable reason was the aftermath situation of the September 11. He said that a convenient store located beside his motel was attacked twice. “The attackers also broke the signboard of my motel, and the owner of the store was also feeling distressed,” he said.
Reza owns two laundries, one motel and five houses. Mohammad Reza came to the United States in 1985. He was in New York until he received permanent residence status, then he moved to Oklahoma in 1994.
“As I like my motherland, I like America too, because what was beyond my imagination in my home country, I could achieve that here. … But September 11 has been made everything topsy-turvy. Most of the part of the day I have to use the telephone, due to my business. I have to mention my name to leave a message. I have not received a return of a single message after September 11. Even if some one is available on the other side, he or she suddenly becomes silent, just after listening my name. I have fallen into embarrassment regularly,” he explained.
“So I went to the court at the advice of the lawyer. My affidavit had been completed at the Tulsa district court on December 5. Now my name is Reza Hayat.”
“My father's (whom I give utmost respect) name is Abul Hayat. So, I adopted my father’s last name as my own. The respected judge Thomas Thornberg wanted to be sure that I was doing this because of my dissatisfaction with the behavior of the Americans. At one stage he said he regretted my decision. The learned judge accepted my petition as per rule prevailing on the state to change the name,” he said.
Reza Hayat said that his decision would obviously irk everyone of the community. “Many would become annoyed with me. Many friends have already expressed their reactions. From Bangladesh, my elder brother and middle brother have already telephoned me to leave this permanently.
“I have been compelled to take this step lead a normal life,” Reza Hayat said.
“Yet I would remain active to uphold the culture and tradition of my motherland. I would like to obey the religious rules in every step of my life. Abul Hayat, who retired as the teacher of Bangla language of Rajshahi College had 3 sons and 2 daughters, of whom Reza Hayat was the youngest. He secured seventh place in the combined merit list in the SSC examination held in 1979 under Rajshahi Education Board and 14th place in the combined merit list of Higher Secondary Education Exam held under Dhaka Education Board in the year 1981. After that when he was in honors final year he came to the U.S.A. He used to leave in Suryasen Hjall [of Dhaka University].
Big brother of Reza Hayat Nurul Kadir is the senior assistant Secretary at Bangladesh Secretariat and middle brother Anwar Zahid Ruben is a physician at the Chapainawabganj Hospital.
Reza Hayat said, “The most painful thing that I have got to do in my life was this work, which cost me only 479 dollars. He said that a total of about 8 to 10,000 Muslims, including 300 Bangladeshis, live in Tusla.
No other incident of changing name has been reported in the United States because of Sept. 11.
This article appeared in Edition 3 of Voices That Must Be Heard
Included by permission of Weekly Thikana.