Muslims in Military Say ‘Everybody Belongs’

September 16, 2007

Author: Jennifer H. Svan

Source: Stars and Stripes

While serving their country, they find time to pray to Allah at least five times a day.

On Fridays, they recite their Jumah prayers in community worship, whether at the Camp Foster Chapel masjid on Okinawa or at a room set aside for them in the base chapel at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Like other members of faith groups in the minority among U.S. troops, their numbers at Pacific bases overseas are small. But their religion is center stage in the U.S.-led war against terrorism and Islamic extremism.

Things have changed for Muslim servicemembers since Sept. 11, 2001 — not necessarily for the worse.

They get more questions from mostly curious — but sometimes sarcastic — colleagues about their beliefs, and some have searched their souls for answers on how their faith squares up with military duty in this current war.

But even as some American Muslims continue to report discrimination and other difficulties in the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks, some U.S. Muslim servicemembers in the Pacific said they haven’t experienced any collective backlash.

They said they openly practice their religion without fear of ostracism or discrimination and report few, if any, incidents of unfair treatment.