This man's heart was forever changed by his refugee neighbors.
John Dutcher, a 61-year-old man living in deeply conservative Nebraska, openly admits to hating Muslim people prior to the arrival of his new neighbors, who are all Muslim refugees. He said that his resentment began following the 9/11 attack and that, although he never acted on it, he went so far as to fantasize about putting a pig’s head on a mosque.
Living in an apartment building with low-income tenants, Dutcher was often surrounded by alcoholics and drug addicts who didn’t care for their properties and would often trash the facilities. Last June, however, everything changed when Lutheran Family Services began housing refugees who had gained asylum in the apartments and slowly replaced many of the bad tenants.
Dutcher said that the empty bottles lining the hallways were replaced with children’s bicycles and drug-fueled screaming has been replaced by children’s laughter. Despite his initial hatred for Muslim people in general, he felt compelled to offer his help to the women who came by that needed assistance and didn’t speak English. This was the start of a beautiful friendship.
“The Muslims here were all about family and they just loved everyone,” Dutcher told the Washington Post. “I remember the people who lived here before; they took for granted everything this country gave them. These people, they really changed my heart.”
“I used to be afraid when the meth addicts were here,” he said. “Now I don’t even look to see who’s knocking on my door. I know it will be someone with a plate of food or a kid asking me to fix his bike.”
The man has said that, looking back, he can’t believe how much he hated people that he didn’t even know and understands that this is the problem many Americans face when they claim that they hate or fear Muslim people. He marvels at the difference between his former neighbors and how loving his new neighbors and “family members” are, despite the heinous circumstances they have faced and shared with Dutcher.
“They took the hatred out of me,” Dutcher told KETV with tears in his eyes. “They didn’t want to just come over here and get welfare. They come over here because they were forced to.”
And yet, “After three months of being here, they all have jobs, they all have cars, their kids are going to school,” he said.
Dutcher now keeps a bicycle pump by his door to help the children with their bikes and his neighbors have said that he is their go-to guy when they need help with anything. As a result, Dutcher has said that he is dissatisfied with the way President Trump has carried out the ban but that he’s supportive of other pieces of legislation brought forth by the 45th president.
A variety of studies show that the vast majority of Americans do not know their Muslim neighbors and that those with fear or hatred directed at Muslim people could be caused by this unfamiliarity. Since legislation regarding the ability of people from Muslim-majority nations is a hot topic right now, it’s important to gather all of the facts and do some soul-searching before taking a stance on the issue.
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