Serving as a Warrant Officer IV, Fatuma Salim-Shirazy is highly respected in her company. Working among other officers, she is a minority because she is both a female, from Kenya, and also a Muslim.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy attends physical training every morning at 6:30am with her division. She wakes up at 5:00am to prepare her children for school before heading to physical training.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy exercises on the elliptical machine during most of her physical training.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy has not encountered any difficulties practicing Islam at work; she has her own private office where she can pray when necessary. Most of her co-workers do not know she is a practicing Muslim but when they find out, they respect her.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy cheers on her son, Jamal, at a track meet in Killeen, Texas where her son attends middle school.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy’s daughter, Jante, has at times experienced some difficulty in the predominantly Christian community of Killeen. Jante at 15 years old chooses to wear a hijab.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy is a workaholic; she is apart from her family from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM at night. On weekends, Salim-Shirazy often attends her children’s sporting events or spends time with her family at home.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy prepares to pray with her family by putting on her hijab. With eight children, and one son currently serving in Afghanistan, praying five times a day can be a challenge in the Salim household.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy displays a picture of her parents on a computer. As a child, her parents instilled in her that Islam is a religion of peace, and she carries that belief with her still. Even so, Salim-Shirazy is aware that in public, she must be mindful of saying such phrases as “Allha Akbar”, which means God is great, because of the negative connotations in many people’s minds.
Fatuma prays with her husband, Muhammad, while her children are in Saturday school learning about Islam.
Fatuma Salim-Shirazy spent 20 years serving in the United States Army. She retired in 2012.
Brandon Burgess, a recent convert to Islam is a Multiple Rocket Launch technician. “For me, I am clearly American, no one gives me any trouble. But for my buddies who are of Middle Eastern descent, it’s hard for them to be Muslim and serve in the military. Religion shouldn’t be a problem, it just shouldn't”, says Burgess.
At Fort Hood, there is no imam and Wagdi Mabrouk serve as the Volunteer Faith leader of Islam where he leads prayers on base every Friday. Usually a handful of soldiers show up to prayers on Friday inside a building shared among other religion.
Since retirement, Mabrouk stays at home and takes care of his daughter. Mabrouk let’s his daughter plays with his cell phone.
Wagdi Mabrouk, a veteran of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, says his life drastically changed in the military following September 11.
For John Ali, a Middle Eastern born private serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, he has been threatened by fellow troops and called slurs as “Al Qaeda” by Sergeants.
John Ali said he does not have many friends in the Army. He often visits local parks by himself to pass his time when not on duty.
John Ali lives in the barracks, which increases the likelihood of instances of discrimination. Ali looks forward to moving out of the barracks once he gets married.
James Yee visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City to reflect on what happened on September 11 and how that event tragically changed his life.
While at the 9/11 Memorial, James Yee received phone calls all afternoon, with requests to perform interviews about the New York Police Department spying on Muslim students at New York University.
James Yee was the former Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay from 2002-2003. The victim of religious discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces, he was charged with espionage, spying for the enemy, and stealing classified documents from the Army. He was also in prison for 76 days. Lacking evidence, all charges were dropped. His suffering stemmed from one soldier’s Islamophobia.