“They took the hatred out of me,” says 61-year old John Dutcher. “I never knew how badly somebody could hate someone they don’t even know.”
This is John Dutcher’s story. He’s a house cleaner living in Omaha, Nebraska who went from being an angry Islamophobe to an admirer of the faith and even, more importantly, a friend to Muslims. Mr. Dutcher had never actually met a Muslim person before until one day six families moved into his apartment complex, and for the first time, he actually got to know a Muslim person.
Mr. Dutcher says he used to be the type of guy to sneer at women wearing the hijab and had even put a pig’s head on the steps of a mosque once. But when the families moved into the complex, Mr. Dutcher soon found them to be a welcome relief as his former neighbors were drug addicts and not good neighbors. The families were refugees from Syria and Afghanistan and that struck a chord with Mr. Dutcher as he learned about their harrowing stories escaping war-torn countries, and slowly his position about Islam and Muslims changed.
“The Muslims here were all about family and they just loved everyone,” recounts Mr. Dutcher. “After three months of being here, they all have jobs, they all have cars, their kids are going to school… I remember the people who lived here before; they took for granted everything this country gave them. These people, they really changed my heart.”