Submitted by Michelle Bedy Barzal, Veteran, U.S. Marine Corp.
There’s been an ugly dialogue taking place as of recent, and I have often ended up in intense discussions with others in Northeast Ohio about immigrants that are Muslim. Here’s what I wrote, verbatim, about the the father of Captain Khan, KIA in 2004:
The father of a Muslim U.S. soldier who died in combat rebuked Donald Trump for his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country in a dramatic moment at the Democrat National Convention on Thursday night.
Captain Humayun S. M. Khan was KIA in Iraq. While conducting an inspection of his troops on duty, a car drove into the compound. He told his troops to stand back and he took 10 steps forward to inspect the vehicle. The car was rigged with an IED and detonated, killing him. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
There have been many time in the last 17 years that I have defended Muslims, reminding people that I have served with them in the Corps and have NEVER had an issue leading, or being lead by, them.
And every time I hear this rhetoric, I think about one of my absolute favorite Marines: Omar Qudosi. He immigrated from Northern Afghanistan, where his father fought the Soviets, and detested the Taliban, so they came to the US. He joined the Corps and went to school when I was an Instructor in Meridian Mississippi. I was walking down a cat walk (hall on the outside of the barracks doors or cement pathways) and struck up a conversation with the young man. I was astounded at the maturity and knowledge of world events. He wasn’t in my class, but I kept tabs on him throughout his time there and, eventually, I followed him to Yuma, Arizona.
When I arrived, I ran into him when reporting to my command. I told him that I didnt have time to talk, as my house was arriving (brought my mobile home with me from Mississippi – don’t laugh, I attached it to a lot of land and made a killing on the resale) and I needed to go unpack my household items out of the Uhaul into the house.
He immediately offered to help. No questions asked other than “when/where do you need me to be?” I was a Staff Sergeant before long and he was still a Corporal, so I can’t say we were friends, but I can say that being his boss was the easiest task ever AND I attended his going away party three days after giving birth.
He was gentle, kind, smart, a talented artist, and humorous beyond belief. During his going away luncheon, we exchanged Holy books. I gave him a Bible and he gave me an English copy of the Qur’an. He said that we had much to learn from each other and we should continue even if we were separated by circumstances.
I still have that copy of the Qur’an, however I have lost contact with Qudosi. My world is a duller place without him in it.
I think these types of experiences is why General Powell said this about the accusations of Barack Obama being Muslim:
“I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to [say] such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”
Like it or not; Muslims have served in the defense of this country in the Armed Forces. I have served with them. If they are mandated to register for the draft, volunteer to fight in the defense of this country; then they not only shouldn’t be treated as if they have leprosy, but should be embraced as citizens of the United States.
This fear mongering attitude – and recent turn of bigoted behavior – by the GOP will eventually drive everyone with half a brain from it’s ranks.
(and if any of my Marine friends is in contact with Qudosi, please let me know).
Forgive me for the long winded email, it’s just nice to be able to voice my opinion to someone that can tell Omar that he is thought of dearly, instead of sending my words into cyber space.
Michelle Bedy Barzal
Editor’s Note: Michelle was able to find Umar Qudosi, my brother, through Qudosi Chronicles. I’m please to share they’re now reunited.