Special to WorldTribune.com
WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has been identifying Muslims in the military in an effort to encourage their presence.
Officials said the Defense Department has been keeping records and tracking Muslims. They said the administration sought to attract Muslims both to the military and to the Pentagon.
“Our nation and our entire military family remain stronger because of
the service and sacrifice of people of all faiths, including the thousands
of patriotic Muslim Americans who have served and still serve in this long
period of war,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said last week.
The U.S. military currently has 4,500 uniformed Muslims, the Pentagon said on
July 3. It was not clear how the Pentagon identified the Muslims. The department
has not given statistics on members of other religious faiths.
In 2009, a U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, shouting “God is great,”
opened fire and killed 13 of his colleagues. Later, authorities acknowledged
that Hasan, a psychiatrist, was linked to Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Critics have accused the administration of promoting Islam as the
preferential faith in the United States. Over the last year, a senior
adviser to the Homeland Security Department, Mohamed Elibiary, issued a
statement that said the U.S. Constitution was “Islamically compliant” and
that a Muslim caliphate was “inevitable.”
“I said America was an Islamic country not a Muslim country,” Elibiary
said in a Twitter post on June 30.
On July 3, Work attended the annual Pentagon ceremony of Iftar, or the evening dinner after a day-long fast that continues throughout the Muslim month of Ramadan. The Pentagon has been conducting the ceremony since 1998 in commemoration of Islam.
“Tonight is an opportunity for people of different faiths to come
together in the spirit of respect and tolerance to share the richness of our
beliefs and to enjoy the traditions of hospitality that are such an
important part of the Muslim community,” Work said.
The Pentagon, which hired Saudi-sponsored groups to raise awareness, has
reported the employment of 1,000 Muslims. Officials said they included
civilians and contractors for the Defense Department.
In his address, Work quoted Obama as saying that Ramadan reminded Americans of the principles of peace, justice and equality. The deputy
secretary also urged those at the Iftar to remember their responsibility to
the defense of the United States.
“Our country’s founders understood in a visceral way [that] the best way
to honor the place of faith in the lives of all Americans was to fight for
justice and equality as well as liberty and freedom,” Work said. “That is
exactly what the men and women both in and out of uniform who serve in the
Department of Defense do every single day. They are safeguarding the very
ideals deemed so precious by our founding fathers.”