Just out today - 5/13/11
NEW YORK TIMES
Two MRFF clients of the Muslim faith featured in ABC News and New York Times articles exposing shocking and systematic human rights violations and rampant religious bigotry in the Army
Army Investigation Over False Accusations Ruined Our Lives, Say Muslim Soldiers
Friday, May 13, 2011
Selected Article Excerpts:
- Five Muslims who joined the Army to work as military translators say their lives and careers were ruined after they were falsely accused of trying to poison their fellow soldiers. [...] In the wake of the [Ft. Hood] shooting, Lyaacoubi and Bahammou said some of their fellow soldiers began to turn on them, calling them "terrorists" and "Hajis" behind their backs. Then in November of 2009, the five Muslim recruits were arrested by the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) over a tip that they were allegedly plotting to poison their fellow soldiers at Fort Jackson.
- Without being formally charged with a crime, the men were questioned about the poisoning allegation and accused of larceny, mutiny and conspiracy. The recruits were detained in their barracks building for 45 days and were escorted by guards wherever they went, including the bathroom. They said they were prohibited from speaking Arabic to each other or to family members on the phone.
- The recruits claim they were told they would be sent to Guantanamo and one of the men said a CID agent told him he would be sent back to Morocco "in a box" [...] "They were treating us as a terrorist," said Lyaacoubi. "I never forget what this agent, she told me. She was like, "We are at war against Islam and you are a Muslim. Well, what are you going to do about that." [...] "I see that my religion is the problem, or the part of the world that I am from is the problem," said Bahammou. "I asked them to take me to church so I can change my religion, if that's the problem."
- They finally reached out to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an advocacy group that promotes religious tolerance in the military. According to the head of MRFF, Michael "Mikey" Weinstein, Muslim military members of his group routinely complain of racial discrimination and harassment. "They are reminded every day in every way that they are not as good, they are not as courageous, they are not as trustworthy. They have no character, they don't have the integrity necessary to be a member of the military," said Weinstein, who is trying to bring the plight of the Muslim recruits to authorities and the media. "This is absolutely disgraceful. It's shocking and I wish I could say that I didn't see it all the time." The Army declined to comment on Weinstein's assertions of anti-Muslim bias.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
False Allegations Upend
Lives of 2 Muslims in Army
Friday, May 13, 2011
Selected Article Excerpts:
- Two years ago, Khalid Lyaacoubi and Yassine Bahammou, immigrants from Morocco, enlisted in the Army National Guard, recruited for a program that promised higher rank, bonuses and quick citizenship to Arabic speakers who could help fill the military’s need for interpreters.
- Shortly before Christmas 2009, they graduated from boot camp, proud just to have made it. But as they prepared to leave Fort Jackson, S.C., they were instead questioned by military investigators who suspected them and three other Moroccan immigrants of plotting to poison fellow soldiers. For the next 45 days, they were placed under a form of barracks arrest, prevented from calling their families without sergeants present, forbidden to speak Arabic to each other and required to have escorts to the mess hall and the bathroom. No charges were filed, but their laptops, cellphones and passports were confiscated.
- Treated with dignity during the first half of their training, they say other soldiers ransacked their bunk room and called them “garbage” soon after the shootings [at Ft. Hood]. When he was initially detained at Fort Jackson in 2009, Specialist Lyaacoubi said an interrogator told him: “We are at war with Islam. And you are Muslim.”
- Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit group representing the two soldiers, said his group had seen a steady increase in Muslim clients who claimed they had been discriminated against since Fort Hood. He called the Army’s Fort Jackson investigation “draconian and clearly unconstitutional.”
If after clicking the link above, you encounter a message stating that you've reached your limit of free monthly articles, please Google "New York Times Paywall" for more information.
The media outlets referenced in the links above have no affiliation with the
Military Religious Freedom Foundation, nor have expressed endorsement thereof.
While we make every effort to ensure that news articles pertaining to our Foundation remain available for you to access, we are unable to guarantee that the links above will remain online and unchanged indefinitely.
The wall separating church and state
in the U.S. military has collapsed.
MRFF desperately needs you to
Help Build The Wall!
CLICK HERE TO DONATE
Without your dedicated assistance we won't make it.
You can also support MRFF by
donating funds, time, or both.
Please click below to choose how
you'd like to Support the Foundation