Eddie Bryant, a disabled combat veteran who served in Iraq, was asked to leave a skydiving site in Lake Wales because he refused to cover a tattoo that offended Muslim soldiers from Qatar.
According to the vet’s blog, Adventures of a Broken Soldier, he is an avid skydiver with almost 300 jumps under his belt. On Wednesday, he was at Skydive Lake Wales, where soldiers from the Asian country of Qatar were also being trained.
On the back of his right calf, Bryant has a tattoo of the Arabic word for “Kafir.”
As he explains on his blog:
“Kafir (Arabic: كافر kāfir, plural كفّار kuffār) is an Arabic term used in an Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as ‘unbeliever,’ ‘disbeliever,’ or ‘infidel.’ The term refers to a person who rejects God or who hides, denies, or covers the ‘truth.'”
The Qatar soldiers apparently took issue with the word being tattooed on someone’s leg. “The Muslim’s from Qatar saw that tattoo and complained to the drop-zone,” Bryant wrote. “Once they did so I was called to the back office and asked to cover it up by the owner.”
When asked in an email exchange how he was knew that the individuals in question were soldiers from Qatar, Bryant replied that a Skydive Lake Wales official told him so and that their skydiving equipment had the name of the country on it.
Skydive Lake Wales did not immediately respond to a request for information.
Bryant said he was offered duct tape to cover the tattoo but he refused because it was nothing more than his way of saying, “I am not a Muslim.” After a short time, Bryant said, the skydive site’s officials asked him to leave.
The long walk to his car felt like a “walk of shame,” Bryant said in the email exchange.
The decorated combat veteran, who risked his life in service to his country, described how the incident made him feel:
“What kind of America do we live in where someone comes back from war; disabled and decorated… while serving overseas was called an “infidel” for over 2 years, and then get asked to leave an establishment because of a tattoo I have that says just that, because of a culture of people visiting our country… I am honestly offended and embarrassed by how I was treated at Skydive Lake Wales.”
Bryant’s full account of what happened can be seen here: Disabled Purple Heart veteran, embarassed at local business.
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