Muslim American, Marine friends make unique push for unity

Muslim American, Marine friends make unique push for unity
Tiffany Bekx Photography

A photo of a marine and a Muslim woman standing in support of each other is making the rounds on social media.

Lindsay Hagens and Tyler Whiting said at first they were nervous about taking the photos, but they changed their minds after decided their message of unity was a very important one.

The two grew up together in Sun Prairie, and that’s where their similarities stop.

“I am an American Muslim,” Hagens said.

“I am a United States Marine,” Whiting said.

Hagens converted to Islam as an adult after marrying her husband. Whiting served in the U.S. military in Iraq.

“We are completely two different people,” Hagens said. “That’s why we get along so well,” Whiting said.

They know their friendship is rare, especially during these tense times, so they decided to use it to make a public statement on unity.

“She wanted to take a picture demonstrating my patriotism, her being Muslim and how before she converted and before I joined the military we were friends and we’re still united,” Whiting said.

Tiffany Bekx is a local photographer and a friend of Hagen’s. Bekx took the photos and posted them to her Facebook page “Tiffany Bekx Photograph.” The photos have now gained hundreds of likes and shares.

“A lot of the comments on the post are ‘This made my day.’ ‘This makes my heart happy.’ ‘I needed to see this today,'” Bekx said of the photos.

The photos are now serving as a message of hope and proof that when you take the time to get to know someone, you’ll find you’re much more alike than different.

“We were trying to demonstrate we are united, that’s what America is based off of and we need to grow it back together,” Hagens said.