Midland Texas, Young Muslims and Baseball
screenplay be Alan Nafzger
A young Muslim boy in Midland Texas must negotiate the fine line between terrorism and his love for baseball.
When his immigrant parents are suddenly motivated to take an covertly political stance as massive political and economical change sweeps through Middle East, the son of a wealthy Midland Texas convenience store owner attempts to make sense of her once-stable world as everything he thought she ever knew is turned upside down.
Aamir is an eleven-year-old Muslim boy who excels in reading class and knows how to hit as baseball and swing a golf club. His father, Samman, comes from a prominent Pakistani family and his mother, Zynah, the most westernized immigrant in all of West Texas, operates the only Persian rug store west of Fort Worth.
Also sharing the family’s sprawling home is Aamir’s twin sister, Jihan. When the increasing militancy of Samman’s Al Quada brother begins to pose a threat to the family, the concerned brother stealthily travels to New York and successfully smuggles his brother back into Texas.
Fully indoctrinated in the belief that all terrorists are bad, Aamir struggles to understand why, after returning from a trip to the Middle East, his parents seem to have developed a new social conscience. Aamir’s father is an enabler for the terrorists. Meanwhile, as the loud footsteps of enthusiastic terrorists begin to echo through the hallways. Aamir doesn’t understand the strange political talk, but he doesn’t like it because it is upsetting his home life.
Aamir would rather be playing baseball (or golf) but the boy is forced by his Uncle to go with him on practice terrorist runs. The Uncle first begins blow up cactus outside of town but slowly progresses to destroying industrial trashcans in Odessa, Aamir does his best to adapt to the strange new environment. Each day Aamir’s uncle drives to the large oil refinery and simply looks at it. He is clearly dreaming of a big event as he works up his nerve.
Aamir is a loud, stubborn brat who voices his concern at the slightest change in his daily rituals. He has become accustomed to an American dinner, which changes to various Pakistani rice dishes. He has been accustomed to his father taking him to play baseball and golf, which changes to mosque.
Aamir notices that the way his sister is treated changes. Aamir and his sister used to have a certain equality, but this changes. His sister is now subjugated and forced to stop attending school. It is said that she is being “home schooled”, but the family simply is enforcing a radical interpretation of the Koran.
To further complicate things, the family takes a trip back to Pakistan to visit Aamir’s grand parents. Niether set of grandparents are fundamentalists and they do their best to push Aamir away from radical Islam. Aamir’s grandfather tells him the story of the “Old Man of the Mountain” (Sabbah) who would drug his young followers with hashish, lead them to a “paradise” and virgins, and then claim that only he had the means to allow for their return. Perceiving that Sabbah was either a prophet of god, his disciples, believing that only he could return them to “paradise”, were fully committed to his cause and willing to carry out his every request.
One day after hearing a political argument between his father and mother, Aamir runs to the public library. He reads about the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, Colleen LaRose’s arrest and the King Salmon, Alaska local meteorologist and wife assassination plots in 2010. He returns to the home understanding much more about his situation.
Aamir is precocious and his reason tackles his parent’s fanaticism head-on. If Aamir’s disease is American baseball, then her parents are guilty of disingenuousness. When Aamir questions the of 72 virgins in paradise and the Koran, the father pulls Aamir from his cherished baseball, and his mother becomes clearly incensed when her only Muslim friend won’t take her advice to take her daughter out of school; it looks and sounds like idealism but stinks of hypocrisy.
During the haunting climax, Aamir stands statue-like upon his return to his baseball team. First he was encouraged to play baseball and now reluctantly allowed to play by his father; this is all very strange to the Texans. The judgmental eyes of the coach and the teammates are cast upon Aamir, but there’s no underestimating his character’s resolve. His parents brought her into this mess, but he faces it on his own terms.
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