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Keep Houston Press Free
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A&M Professor Details His Harassment

We recently wrote about Mundhir Ridha, an Iraqi scientist who filed a lawsuit against Texas A&M University and a group its professors, alleging harassment and discrimination.

Ridha was in Houston this week, and he agreed to sit down and talk with us about working at Texas A&M.

"They put me and wife in a trailer outside the building, and it was not fit for a human being to work over there," Ridha says.

The scientists moved Ridha out of the lab because, he says, he made a formal complaint to the university about ongoing harassment and ridicule from the other researchers. About four months later, he was fired.

"I tolerated the pain, the depression, and they treated me very badly, but when they continued doing this to me, I couldn't take it," Ridha says. "I don't understand. Why invite me to work if you don't like me?

The worst of the allegations is that one of the A&M professors dumped a dirty animal cage onto a prayer rug that Ridha kept in a corner of the lab.

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"I want to put an end to this discrimination and religious persecution at A&M," Ridha says. "We want to be certain that nobody after us will be exposed to this treatment."

Shane McClelland, Ridha's attorney, filed a new statement from a student working in the lab when Ridha was there. "I was reluctant to provide information because I feared that [the A&M scientists] would retaliate against me for speaking out against their conduct," the student said. "Despite my concerns, I participated in the interview because [the research lab] is a hostile work environment, and I do not want other people to endure what Drs. Ridha and Muhsen had to endure."

The case is pretty much at a standstill until a judge rules on a motion filed by the university to dismiss the lawsuit.

-- Paul Knight

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