TERRE HAUTE, Indiana - A visit by a young Muslim has helped a US army veteran to change his views about Muslims and their religion.
"I wouldn't say hate or racist, I would say dislike of the Muslim community," Brian Miller, who served in the army in the 1980s in various locations, told WTHI-TV.Miller had always had negative views about Muslims since the 9/11 attacks and the following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He kept these views until his son's fiancÃ©e unveiled plans to host a Muslim exchange student as a guest at the family's house.
Getting introduced to young Syed Muhammad Ali Naqvi, a Muslim teen from Karachi, Pakistan, Miller's family were experiencing the first relation ever with a Muslim.
The visit was arranged through a scholarship administered by the US Department of State under the title, Youth Exchange and Study Programs or YES Programs.
The program was started by Richard Lugar and Ted Kennedy after 9/11 events to bridge gaps between the US and Middle Eastern countries with Muslim cultures.
That bridge made its way to Shirkieville, where Miller lives, helping him change his perspective on the Muslim culture.
"Once we got Ali in the home, I got to learn a lot and he enlightened me to quite a few things," Miller said.
Ali, planning to return back to Pakistan next month, said he tried to correct misconceptions about his faith.
"I tried to relieve some misconceptions and it was pretty good," he said.
"They welcomed me into their home."
The United States is home to a Muslim community of between six to eight million.
A US earlier survey had revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.Another Gallup poll had also found that the majority of US Muslims are patriot and loyal to their country and are optimistic about their future.