This is about the US, but I have no doubts that Muslim soldiers in Western armies around the world are facing these dilemmas.
Few people ever see Ismile Althaibani’s Purple Heart. He keeps the medal tucked away in a dresser. His Marine uniform is stored in a closet. His hair is no longer shaved to the scalp.
It has been 20 months since he returned from Iraq after a roadside explosion shattered his left foot. He never expected a hero’s welcome, and it never came — none of the balloons or hand-written signs that greeted another man from his unit who lived blocks away.
Mr. Althaibani, 23, was the last of five young marines to come home to an extended family of Yemeni immigrants in Brooklyn. Like the others, he grew accustomed to the uneasy stares and prying questions. He learned not to talk about his service in the company of Muslim neighbors and relatives.
“I try not to let people know I’m in the military,” said Mr. Althaibani, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve.
The passage home from Iraq has been difficult for many American troops. They have struggled to recover from the shocking intensity of the war. They have faced the country’s ambivalence about a conflict in which thousands of their fellow soldiers have been killed or maimed.
But for Muslim Americans like Mr. Althaibani, the experience has been especially fraught.
They were called upon to fight a Muslim enemy, alongside comrades who sometimes questioned their loyalty. They returned home to neighborhoods where the occupation is commonly dismissed as an imperialist crusade, and where Muslims who serve in Iraq are often disparaged as traitors.
Some 3,500 Muslims have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States armed forces, military figures show. Seven of them have been killed, and 212 have been awarded Combat Action Ribbons.
More than half these troops are African-American. But little else is known about Muslims in the military. There is no count of those who are immigrants or of Middle Eastern descent. There is no full measure of their honors or injuries, their struggle overseas and at home.
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Source: NY Times