DEARBORN — Two local Arab Americans have earned the rank of Eagle Scout after being part of the Muslim Scouts of Michigan for more than a decade. Adel Makki and Abraham Baydoun, both 18, are set to receive their badges at a code of honor ceremony to be held on March 28, 7 p.m. at Bint Jbeil Cultural Center.
Makki, a student at Henry Ford Community College, started off as a cub scout when he was eight years old. He worked his way up the ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout, fulfilling all the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America.
“We had a boy scout book that we had to go by… It had activities required for each rank that have to be fulfilled… They had to do with first aid, being a citizen, being a neighbor, helping other people,” said Makki.
The scouts get tested on lessons they learn and are challenged with physical activities before being promoted to the next level.
“We have a review… They question the scout about his activities. If the scout passes, he moves on to the next ranking,” Makki said.
The requirements increase as the ranks go up.
Scouts have to develop a major community service project to achieve the Eagle rank.
Makki directed his troop in a project to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. “We focused on preventing youth from smoking and how to help adult smokers to stop smoking,” he said.
With the help of community professionals and the Internet, Makki led the troop to conduct a web search about the harm of smoking, then designed brochures that they passed out to visitors at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.
The Muslim Scouts of Michigan completed a second Eagle Scout project managed by Abraham Baydoun. The Crestwood High School senior led his troop and others in a fundraising drive for the Dearborn Animal Shelter.
“First, we had a bottle drive to get money for paper, bags, ink and other supplies for the actual project,” Baydoun said.
“Then, we passed out flyers to homes and businesses in the area of what the animal shelter needs and the time and date of when we would come back to pick up supplies.”
He said that a lot of people had supplies in front of their homes waiting for them to pick up.
Baydoun, son of Khalil Baydoun, founder of the Muslim Scouts of Michigan, has been a scout since it started in 1997.
The group, Troop 1139, has been growing, according to Abraham Baydoun, but it has had its struggles in the past. It faced an incident of racial profiling during a trip to Mackinac Island in December 2001.
“We were at Shepler’s (Mackinac Island Ferry), and Mr. Shepler called 911 and said that he had dozens of suspicious (people) wearing trench coats and wearing camouflage and speaking a different language,” Khalil Baydoun said.
“I was there with five kids and we were not wearing camouflage.”
“The police was there, the FBI. It was a big deal. We were on ’60 minutes,'” he said.
Makki said he’s very excited to earn his award on March 28, to reverse biased media portrayals of Muslims.
“I feel honored to have accomplished something for the cause of Islam,” he said. “I wanted to show the bright side, the real side of Muslims—that they can get somewhere… that Islam isn’t terrorism.”