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In her crisp, white shirt, pressed black skirt and white hijab head covering - Canadian Forces Lieutenant Wafa Dabbagh looked every inch the disciplined soldier.

The only part of her appearance that looked out of place was that her shirt wasn't tucked in. As a faithful Muslim woman, Lt. Dabbagh's dress code doesn't permit her to wear tight or form-fitting clothing. And the Canadian Forces is fine with that. Since joining the forces 12 years ago, Lt. Dabbagh said, the Canadian Forces have gone out of their way to accommodate her faith's dress code and dietary restrictions.

"My experience has been 95-per-cent positive," Lt. Dabbagh said at an open house at Burnaby's Al-Salaam mosque, aimed at introducing British Columbia's Muslim community to the Canadian Forces.

From the moment she mistakenly walked into a Canadian Forces recruitment centre 12 years ago, Lt. Dabbagh said, the military has gone out of its way to make her feel welcome.

A logistics officer with HMCS Hunter in Windsor, Lt. Dabbagh said she was particularly touched when, during the backlash against many Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her commanding officer called her into his office to assure her that the Canadian Forces would protect her against intolerant remarks.

About 30 young men and women - mostly students - showed up for the information session, which is part of the Canadian Forces drive to attract ethnic minorities and women into the military.

Holding such a meeting at a mosque is rare and some of its members told The Globe and Mail this week that they didn't think a religious institution should be used to showcase the Canadian military, while others were upset the mosque was playing host to an organization that is involved in a mission in Afghanistan in which Muslims are being killed.

However, 18-year-old Zane Dean said he's dreamed of a life in the military or police department since he was a youngster. "It's a good career," Mr. Dean said. "You can save lives, make a difference."

Both Lt. Dabbagh and another Muslim officer, Master Corporal Tarik Kadri, assured the group the Canadian Forces badly wants to diversify its ranks and attract more Muslims. They said accommodations for dietary needs, religious holidays and clothing are made in today's forces.

But the issue on most people's minds was the thorny matter of the potential for combat in Afghanistan, where a Muslim Canadian soldier might be called upon to fight another Muslim.

"Are you aware the biggest problem for me, and for my friends ... is being sent to Afghanistan?" asked Adnan Krupic.

"I'm from Bosnia. We're afraid we would be pushed into [ a situation]where we would have the blood of our brothers and sisters on our hands."

MCpl. Kadri replied that one sure way to avoid being sent on an undesirable mission is to remain in the reserves, where soldiers can pick and choose their assignments.

College student Qaziya Mursal, 18, said she went to the meeting out of curiosity to see what kind of opportunities are available to young women. She left impressed.

"It was interesting, very interesting," said Ms. Mursal.

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