Magazine article Newsweek

Muslim Warriors-For America: Arab-Americans Must Bridge a Gulf of Misunderstanding in the U.S. Military. Most Just Want to Blend In

Magazine article Newsweek

Muslim Warriors-For America: Arab-Americans Must Bridge a Gulf of Misunderstanding in the U.S. Military. Most Just Want to Blend In

Article excerpt

Suheira hadn't cried in public until that moment. The New York-based writer had steeled herself when she got the news that acquaintances had been killed in the World Trade Center attacks. She had remained strong for her immigrant parents, who, after 10 years on Staten Island, were being shunned by neighbors because of their Arab ethnicity. But as she walked by a newsstand and saw a front-page photo of an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Indian Ocean, her emotions rushed to the surface. Her brother Ahmed, 24, joined the Navy four years ago. The family had been worried about a possible war somewhere in the Arab world; now it had come. A kind passerby offered her a hug, and she broke down. "My brother's in the Navy. And we're Palestinians. Muslims," Suheira said, sobbing. The stranger's response was sympathetic but blunt: "Oh, honey, you got double trouble." Little comfort there.

Ahmed's family is concerned that he may be "racially" profiled within the military, just as other Arab-Americans in civilian life have been since Sept. 11. "Will his loyalty to the American military be questioned?" Suheira asked. "How will he feel fighting against people of his own ethnicity or religion?" She had no answers. But as America enters what President George W. Bush has promised is a "long campaign" against terrorism, many of the estimated 15,000 Muslims in the U.S. military and reserves may face just these dilemmas.

The war on terrorism has stirred conflicting feelings in Muslims and Arabs across the country, including a few Muslim servicemen who have filed for conscientious-objector status. …

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