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‘Three Chaplains’ takes hard look at US military experience of Muslims

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Religious freedom is a tenet of the American Constitution. However, this does not necessarily prevent prejudice from permeating among people who do not know the faith of others.

Until August 2021, the US military was fighting the Global War on Terror in the Middle East, which some sometimes confused with the War on Islam. American Muslims experienced tremendous prejudice in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, much of it at the hands of terrorists who cited Islamic Jihad as the cause of the attacks.

Furthermore, being a Muslim and being a member of the U.S. military may have seemed contradictory at various points in recent history. But for a small number of soldiers, religion and service go hand in hand.

A new documentary, Three Chaplains, chronicles the struggles three Muslim chaplains endured to defend their faith, fight for religious freedom, and end anti-Islam prejudice among their ranks.

Air Force Maj. Rafael Lantigua, Army Col. Khalid Shabazz, and Air Force Capt. Saleh Jabeen discuss their experiences balancing their faith and service in the U.S. military, as well as provide spiritual advice and counsel throughout the film. Trying to. Mentoring others.

“I think it’s important for individuals to have insight into what it is to be a chaplain, especially a military chaplain. [are] We’re doing it,” Lantigua said. “I hope this film provides a way to start conversations that haven’t happened before.”

Meanwhile, the film’s subjects’ experiences didn’t just include scrutiny from their fellow troops. They also faced criticism from their own families and community members, who often did not understand why they would willingly join an organization that seemed at odds with their faith.

“It seemed like a rich place to explore these misconceptions about American Muslims, military personnel of this era,” director David Washburn, who also created “American Mosque,” told Military Times. Told.

“I followed this film because it focused on Muslim chaplains, because it’s about more than just military service,” he added. “It touches on all the other themes that people in the civilian world can relate to.”

“Three Chaplains” premieres Nov. 6 and is available for free on PBS. https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/documentaries/three-chaplains/

Sarah Sicard is a senior editor at Military Times. She previously served as Digital Editor of Military Times and Editor of Army Times. Additional work by her can be found in National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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