Great job as always by filmmaker Eric Byler, in this case interviewing my friend and former State Senate candidate Atif Qarni (D-Manassas) about “his sense of duty to defend America as a U.S. Marine in the age of Islamic terrorism, and also to defend Muslim Americans as a public school teacher in the age of Donald Trump.” See below the video for more highlights.
- Atif discusses how, on 9/11, two of his “caucuasian male” coworkers went to “their Muslim friend”‘s apartment in DC until they could figure out the best way to get home to Virginia.
- Atif talks about his decision after 9/11 to go overseas with the Marines and fight for America.
- Atif says he wasn’t particularly fearful for his family’s safety in 2001, in large part because President Bush stood with the Muslim-American community. Today, it’s actually scarier ‘because of what Donald Trump is saying.”
- “I do feel that the Muslim-American community is a big punching bag in the United States right now, like the Latino community is, and Donald Trump has exponentially amplified that rhetoric.”
- Atif adds that people, including Republicans, who actually get to know Muslim-Americans know that we are “normal human beings who go to soccer games for our kids…part of the PTSO…once [people] get to know you, everything will be alright.”
- On the Orlando shootings, Atif says he was hoping it wouldn’t be a Muslim, because “every time there is a shooting…first you pray for the victims, but I’ll be honest with you…I hope and pray that it’s not a Muslim…as an American I feel under attack by terrorists, but as a Muslim-American…it’s a very suffocating feeling,” could lead to a mosque getting vandalized or a Muslim-American being attacked.
- “Americans who can really counter that are Americans like myself…I want to counter that…I wish I was of fighting age…and could go battle ISIS…Muslims are [speaking out against ISIS].”
- “Going back to Donald Trump, he’s done a lot of damage…whether he wins or not…going to have impacts for years to come…I hate to compare him to ISIS…but I think you have to openly speak out against Trump.”
- Finally, Eric teases the next segment, on Atif’s run for State Senate, when “they finally came out and said the reason we’re uncomfortable with you representing the Democratic Party on the ticket is your faith.” Something tells me Dick Saslaw isn’t going to like that one.