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OpenAI boss Sam Altman says Muslims in tech world fear retaliation in speaking up

'I am Jewish. I believe that antisemitism is a significant and growing problem in the world,' says Altman
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 16, 2023. Reuters
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 16, 2023. Reuters

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said on Thursday he felt members of the Muslim and Arab communities in the tech industry were uncomfortable speaking about their recent experiences, in an apparent reference to the impact of the ongoing war in Gaza.

“Muslim and arab (especially Palestinian) colleagues in the tech community I have spoken with feel uncomfortable speaking about their recent experiences, often out of fear of retaliation and damaged career prospects,” Altman wrote on social media network X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Microsoft-backed (MSFT.O) ChatGPT maker’s high-profile boss urged the tech industry to treat members of those communities with empathy.

A user on X asked Altman in a reply how he felt about the experiences of the Jewish community.

Altman responded: “I am Jewish, and I believe that antisemitism is a significant and growing problem in the world, and I see a lot of people in our industry sticking up for me, which I deeply appreciate. I see much less of that for Muslims.”

Rights advocates note that antisemitism and Islamophobia have risen sharply in the U.S. and elsewhere since Oct. 7 when Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza has killed more than 22,000 Palestinians, almost 1% of its 2.3 million population, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said last month that in the two months after the war began, incidents motivated by Islamophobia and bias against Palestinians and Arabs rose by 172% in the United States compared to the same period last year.

The Anti-Defamation League said in December that between Oct. 7 and Dec. 7, U.S. antisemitic incidents rose by 337%.

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