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Ahmad and James on Swedish bank's blacklist

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13:43 CEST+02:00
Swedish bank Skandiabanken has come under fire for a black list that hinders customers with Arabic names from using routine banking services.

Ahmad Waizy from Lindome was unable to pay a bill to a German company online as Skandiabanken's system blocked his name. Waizy has now reported the bank to the ombudsman (DO) alleging discrimination.

"I called the bank and they told me that they had a block in their system stopping Arabic-sounding names, like mine, when conducting transfers," Waizy told online newspaper E24.

Ahmad is a name that is common in Sweden, with 4,100 people bearing it.

Skandiabanken has confirmed that it checks names against a black list, compiled by the EU, of people suspected of connections to terrorist groups.

"Just like all other banks we have to follow the list. We are bound by law," said Lena Hök of Skandiabanken.

The blacklist includes common Arabic names such as Ahmed, Hussein, Mohammed and Yacoub but also non-Arabic sounding names such as José Maria and James.

The discrimination ombudsman has sought answers from Skandiabanken on a series of questions about the incident with Ahmad Waizy, a move that is welcomed by the bank.

"It is positive that this issue is put to the test and that DO gives clear instructions on how to proceed." Lena Hök told E24.

Waizy was eventually able to transfer the money, but only after he had removed his first name from the field on the form, on the advice of Skandiabanken's customer service.

"I have lived in Sweden all my life and have never before felt discriminated against...I thought it was only foreign banks, scared of the terrorism frenzy, that did this; not my Swedish bank," said Ahmad Waizy to E24.

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