'We love America' , say Muslims in US Armed forces
But many Muslims are serving America and claiming they love this nation:
In the Army and National Guard there are US military programs which specifically reach out to recruit Arab and Muslim Americans. There has been a tremendous and robust reaching out to this community, and one Marine reservist who is a Muslim, Sgt. Baadani, age 45, says he is thankful for it, and loves his country.
Of the 1.4 million who serve in the US Military, about 3,500 are Arab/Muslim Americans.
Says the Detroit Free Press , "Their views and language skills are needed more than ever.".
When Nader Alsafari of Dearborn was sent to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006 to fight with the U.S. Marines, some of his fellow Muslims at a local mosque weren't pleased because they felt it was an unjust war.
Most of them didn't like it," Alsafari, 23, recalled last week. "They'd be like, 'You should try to get out.' ... They were thinking, we were just going to go and kill innocent people."
But Alsafari -- like other Muslims -- saw himself performing his duty as an American. There are some 3,500 declared Muslims in the U.S. military. And they're in the spotlight after the Nov. 5 shootings at a military base in Ft. Hood, Texas. The suspect, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, is an Arab-American Muslim.
Caught between two worlds, they're trying to carve out their own identity during a time of war when some are questioning their loyalty.
A director with a conservative Christian group says Muslims should be banned from serving. And amid the many Muslim leaders who denounced the Ft. Hood shootings were a few who praised Hasan, saying his actions were Islamic.
But Muslim veterans strongly reject the extremists on both sides.
"We love this country," said Shelton Hasan, 54, of Detroit, an Army veteran, "and want to protect it like anyone else."
Muslim Troops Aim To Build Trust In U.S. Military
When Jamal Baadani, a native of Dearborn and U.S. Marine, was visiting his nephew a few years ago, he noticed the 5-year-old boy didn't want to play with him as usual.
"What's the matter?" Baadani said he remembers asking him.
"You kill Arabs," replied the boy, apparently repeating what he heard adults around him utter.
It was a cold reminder to Baadani that some in Arab-American and Muslim communities are reluctant to have their children serve in the U.S. armed forces, partly because they would have to fight fellow Muslims.
But that attitude pushed Baadani to continue his effort to bridge the gap between the military and his community. He founded the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military, APAAM, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His mission was to help educate people about the importance of serving your country.
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San Antonio, Texas, United States