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UNION COUNTY, NJ — Former Marine Sgt. Affraz Mohammed is a Union County resident with a story to tell.
Mohammed, who lives in Springfield, is sharing a story that is gaining relevance in post-election America, as certain ethnic and religious groups have been affected by the policies of the new administration in Washington. Many Muslims have told him, he said, that they feel targeted. Mohammed tells LocalSource that many of these experiences today are reminiscent of the national mood following Sept. 11, 2001.
Mohammed’s story began in Trinidad, where he and his 12 siblings were born. He came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old.
“I grew up in the ghettos of Newark, where being Muslim was not an issue unless we wore religious dress, but I was made fun of for being Indian, and it was not cool to be interested in education, so I did not do well in school,” Mohammed told LocalSource in a March 10 email.
Mohammed describes himself as “fairly intelligent but not educated.”
“I was determined to have a life beyond the ghetto, and older siblings and cousins had joined the military, so I did as well,” Mohammed said. “Growing up watching another cousin murdered in the street and where violence was part of daily life, I figured that if I was killed in the military, my mother would receive a $250,000 check as opposed to dying in the street for nothing.”
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