News of the Weird: Gitmo Edition

About the only thing worth reading in all those “alternative” free weekly papers that line birdcages and clog recycling bins in every crunchy burgh is the “News of the Weird” feature, syndicated by Chuck Shepherd for the last 21 years.  Things like this:

Dateline Saudi Arabia: (1) A newspaper in the capital city of Riyadh reported in April that three men from the United Arab Emirates were booted out of a religious festival by Saudi morality police because they were thought to be “too handsome” and would make Saudi women improperly attracted to them. (2) Another Saudi daily reported in April that a schoolteacher had agreed to marry her suitor but only provided that the man take on two of her colleagues as extra wives. (Saudi Arabia allows men as many as four.) The newspaper reported that the woman had rented three apartments in the same building, signaling that the deal had perhaps been sealed. [, 4-16-2013] [Gulf News, 4-21-2013]

Well, here’s one that definitely makes Power Line’s News of the Weird: an American guard at Gitmo . . . converting to Islam, and demanding release of the detainees:

Death threats are just another part of life for Terry Holdbrooks Jr.

The ex-U.S. Army employee converted to Islam in 2003, inspired by the faith of the Guantanamo detainees he was charged with watching. Since then, he says he has lost his friends, received violent threats, and been labeled a “race traitor” online.

But he hasn’t gone quietly. The 29-year-old has done his fair share of media and has even signed on for a job as a speaker for the Muslim Legal Fund of America. Now the devout Muslim is racking up frequent flyer miles and touring the country with what he calls the “truth about Gitmo.”

“Gitmo was supposed to be a cushy deployment since we were just going to babysit detainees,” Holdbrooks said. “But it changed me.”

It sounds like the military may not have screened this guy very well:

As a teenager, Holdbrooks had searched for truths in several different religions. He came to Guantanamo convinced that all monotheistic religions were evil.

But over the course of several months, as Holdbrooks started speaking to the detainees and reading the Quran, he began to find some truth in Islam.

“The Quran is the simplest book in the world to read. It doesn’t have magic. It doesn’t contradict itself,” Holdbrooks said. “It’s simply an instruction manual for living.”    The faith lives of the detainees seemed to be proof that the instruction manual could work.

Has the world gone completely mad?



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