Israeli-Arab says he was fired from job for speaking Arabic

Hilal Asi, 21, an Israeli-Arab living in Kafr Bara in central Israel, says he was fired from his job at a shoe store just days after the deputy CEO of the chain visited the store and rebuked him for speaking Arabic.
An illustrative photo of a shoe store in Israel Photo credit: David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons

A young Israeli-Arab man says he was fired from his job at a shoe store in central Israel for speaking Arabic.

Hilal Asi, 21, had worked at the store for six months. Two weeks ago, he says, the deputy CEO of the chain visited the store. "I was supposed to get off early that day because of a family event," Asi told Ynet. "The worker who replaced me was late so I asked her in Arabic, 'Why are you late?' and then the deputy CEO heard me and said, 'Hilal, don't speak Arabic.' I asked him why and he said, 'Just don't, there are customers here.'"

"So I went into the storage room and I asked her again why she was late," Asi added. "The deputy CEO heard me and said, 'Why are you disrespecting me?' I asked him what he meant and he said, 'It's the third time I've asked you not to speak Arabic.'"

Two days later, Asi was told he was being let go. He then phoned his supervisor and recorded the conversation. In it, she is heard telling him, 'You should have started to speak in Hebrew after he yelled at you.'"

Asi described the deputy CEO's request as discriminatory and racist. "Arabic is an official language here, not a foreign language," he said. "Every citizen in this country should respect it just like we respect other languages."

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