Sunday, January 29, 2006

What does Captain James Yee have to say in his book?

Faith & Patriotism Under Fire
Ayub Khan Special to Arab News Review

It is no secret that Muslims in the United States and elsewhere live under constant scrutiny and suspicion. They are often asked to prove their loyalties to the countries of their residence. It is one thing to doubt the loyalties of relative new comers. It is another to doubt, on spurious grounds, the loyalty of a person whose patriotism would make others envious. These are uncertain times, however, and no one is above suspicion. James Yee’s “For God and Country” proves how deep rooted the suspicion is.

Former US Army Muslim Chaplain Captain James Yee has an impressive background and stellar credentials. A third generation Chinese-American, he graduated from West Point. He was a commissioned officer in the US Army for 14 years. He traveled to Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War as part of his military service. The tour turned out to be fateful as it sparked his interest in Islam and he soon converted. To strengthen his religious knowledge he went to Damascus, Syria and studied under traditional scholars for four years. He also married a Syrian.

In 2001 he was commissioned as one of the first Muslim chaplains in the United States Army. He was sought after as a spokesman in order to educate soldiers about Islam and Muslims. Subsequently, he was selected to serve as the Muslim Chaplain at the Guantanamo Bay where detainees from Afghanistan and elsewhere are being held as “unlawful combatants.” When he first landed at Guantanamo Bay he received some valuable advice from the previous chaplain. “There are other things about this place that will be a little harder to take,” said Chaplain Hamza. “I don’t want to discourage you on your first night, but you need to be prepared. This is not a friendly environment for Muslims, and I don’t just mean th