Chaplain James Yee Reflects Back on 9/11

September 12, 2006

Source: Esquire

In September 2006 Esquire reported, "James Yee, a West Point graduate and Muslim Army chaplain, was arrested in September 2003 for spying and aiding the enemy while ministering to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His record was eventually cleared. Yee has since written a book about his experience, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. For me, the 'Oh, no' moment came even before 9/11. It happened after the federal building in Oklahoma was bombed. I thought that Muslims would definitely be blamed; regardless of who conducted the attack, I knew there would be backlash, and there was. So when the planes hit, I thought, 'This is going to happen again.' I don't buy into this idea that we are engaged in a clash of civilizations. I just don't buy it. I'm an American and I'm a Muslim. There is no conflict between the two. They actually complement each other. Even more than that: They are parallel. Diversity is both an American and an Islamic value. Religious freedom is both an American value and an Islamic value. Tolerance is both an American and Islamic value--although Islam is portrayed in America as very intolerant. But those who study Islam know that's a bunch of baloney. Islam accepts all people, regardless of what nationality or ethnicity you are. As a student, I read that, and I thought I understood. But it wasn't until I actually went to Mecca for the first time that I really understood. I thought I would be the only Chinese Muslim there. That couldn't have been further from the truth. There were Muslims of every color and ethnicity, from every country in the world."