Former Iraqi refugee is an Army National Guard recruiter in Nebraska

Here is a revealing story about how a former Iraqi interpreter now using his skills in the National Guard in Nebraska struggles to dispel the negative image of Muslims in the military in the wake of the massacre at Ft. Hood.  He seems like a decent and sincere man who is happy to be in America, but one section of this story in the Omaha World Herald was revealing.   In his effort to recruit diversity into the Guard, he comes upon immigrants who obviously hate the country that now harbors them, and the National Guard that keeps them safe.

Many of the people he recruited welcomed him, thrilled to converse with someone who looked like them and wore an American military uniform.

But no map is good enough to keep him from taking wrong turns and slamming into walls.

He left a mosque once when the worshippers made him feel uncomfortable about the way he folded his hands to pray.

He learned that certain people from certain communities in Nebraska — he doesn’t want to say who — consider him an enemy of religion. They’ve hissed at him and called him everything short of an infidel.  [Three guesses who the ‘hissers’ are in Nebraska!]

“There are strict people,” he said. “You know, people who just know good or bad and that’s all. When you live like that, it is easy to kill. It is easy to say ‘In the name of God’ — bang! — ‘That’s it.’

“But of course it doesn’t work that way.”

Basim refused to stop, kept right on talking that day to the Muslim man convinced that the Nebraska National Guard was the enemy.

Basim told him he wasn’t going to fight his people, he was going to fight people who were hurting his people.

The argument turned into a debate, and the debate morphed into a chat. They parted as friends.

The man did not join the Guard. But maybe, Basim thinks, they changed each other’s minds just a little.   [I sure hope he didn’t change Basim’s mind a little!]

Just one of many posts at RRW on Somalis in Nebraska for your reading pleasure.

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