Mansoor Shams is a U.S. Marine Veteran, business owner, and Muslim youth leader. He’s also the founder of MuslimMarine.org where, per his website, he uses his platform of both “Muslim” and “Marine” to counter hate, bigotry, and Islamophobia mainly through education, conversation and dialogue.
In this op-ed for Newsweek, Mr. Shams writes about coming to American as a six year old immigrant child from Pakistan but says that lately, he has felt less at home in his adopted country. “For people who look like me or follow my Islamic faith, the United States has become a colder place. I no longer am sufficiently ‘American,’ according to the definition some use today. And this is after I’ve served my country faithfully and honorably as a proud U.S. Marine,” he writes.
Here are some more snippets from the powerful op-ed:
— “For people who look like me or follow my Islamic faith, the United States has become a colder place. I no longer am sufficiently ‘American,’ according to the definition some use today. And this is after I’ve served my country faithfully and honorably as a proud U.S. Marine.”
— “…I didn’t flinch for a second when I decided to join the Marines in October of 2000. As a Muslim, it was my duty to serve the country that I called home, and contrary to popular belief, my decision to don America’s cloth aligned with the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad—that loyalty and dedication to the U.S., my place of residence, was a part of my faith.”
— “Not too long after my service began, 9/11 happened. Like every other American, I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe what had taken place. As the news trickled in, those responsible for the attacks started being linked to the very country I was born in and the religion I belonged to.”
— “When people associate me and fellow American Muslims with ‘Islamic Extremists,’ or derisively label me as an ‘immigrant’— as if that’s a bad thing—I cannot help but feel disheartened.”
— “I took an oath to protect all of ‘us’—every white, brown, black, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist—and yes, even the person who hates Islam but calls themselves an American. I served this country—I have medals, a uniform in my closet, and an honorable discharge hanging on my wall to prove it—and I will always continue to serve this country, and champion its ideals.”