“She was Color Guard Commander in her sophomore year, which is a position we don’t often give to underclassmen,” Benning said.
Senior Master Sergeant William Eihusen expressed similar sentiments, commenting that Sarra is “an outstanding cadet, and very mature for her age.” Both instructors also commended her academic performance.
The AFJROTC promotes a “whole person” concept, which motivates cadets to strive for both strong interpersonal relationships and strong academic performance. Col. Benning stressed that Debbabi was not chosen because of her gender, religion, or race, but on her merit.
“She really cares for the program and the cadets,” Benning said.
Even knowing that she was appointed due to her achievements, the fact that Debbabi has such a respectable position could open the door for other Muslims;
Despite all of her ambition and achievement, there are some people out there who would love to see her fail, simply based on her religion. The dialogue surrounding Islam and American Muslims has become increasingly vitriolic and xenophobic in the last few years, especially with the rise of extremists, like ISIS, and acts of terrorism, such as 9/11.
These terrible events have clouded the public’s view of Islam and its 1.6 billion adherents. Even Muslims who are American citizens, born on American soil, have been subjected to prejudice for following their religion and keeping in touch with their various, colorful cultures.
Debbabi, herself, has also felt hatred at times, claiming, “I just got called a terrorist within the last week.”
In the vast majority of cases, terror related to a person’s religion is patently untrue -- the most recent estimate of the population of American Muslims puts it at 3.3 million, and only 81 people were arrested in connection with Islamic extremism in 2015.