His sign says it all: “I’m A Muslim U.S. Marine Ask Anything.” Mansoor Shams has been traveling all across America in an effort to help his fellow Americans understand his faith and culture better, and to fight Islamophobia.
Mr. Shams is a veteran who served in the U.S. Marines from 2000 to 2004, and says that there are a lot of assumptions that people make when they learn someone is Muslim. “But what I found is that the conversation, the dialogue, has for the most part led to something very fruitful…. To me, even one person makes a big difference. Because now when that person goes out to his circle of friends, and if there is some anti-Islamic, Islamophobia sort of environment, I know that he will speak up in that moment and say, ‘You know what? No. Let’s not paint everybody with a broad brush.’ So I don’t feel my efforts are wasted in any way. I think if I get to make a difference or change the thought process of one individual, I feel very satisfied.
Speaking about the new Trump era, the veteran thinks that it has “definitely created a lot of stigmas… For example, I am owner of a store in the Baltimore area, and I’ve had a [customer] tell me, ‘Hey, you Muslim right? I don’t have a problem with that, you know, but Trump better make America great again.’ And until I told him that I had served in the U.S. Marine Corps, which he was totally taken aback by and shocked to the point that he kept staring at me and said, ‘I’m gonna go tell everybody I just met a Muslim Marine today.’ I realize that there is these things that are deeply ingrained within people.”