US Army Judges Rule Ft Hood Terror Suspect Must Shave Beard

A panel of U.S. Army judges handed down their ruling on Thursday that Major Nidal Hasan, the soldier accused in the Fort Hood Massacre must shave his beard before appearing for his court-martial. Nadal has said he will not shave the beard because he claims it is a part of his Muslim faith.

Hasan stands accused of opening fire on soldiers who were undergoing medical exams at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas on November 5, 2009. These soldiers were preparing for deployment to Iraq at the time. Thirteen died in the attack and thirty-two others were wounded.

“In front of a military panel, it is undeniable that failure to comply with Army grooming regulations would cast him in a negative light,” a majority of judges ruled.

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“The military judge has the authority to prescribe the proper uniform for trial,” they added.

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Reuters reports,

Hasan’s lawyers have indicated they will appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces, the superior court under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

His trial has been on hold for months while the issue of his beard was adjudicated. A date for the court-martial will not be set until the higher court makes a final ruling.

Hasan had argued that he grew the beard to show his faith and requiring him to shave it amounted to religious discrimination.

Army prosecutors countered that Hasan was a practicing Muslim for more than 20 years in the Army while adhering to grooming standards and remaining clean-shaven.

It seems the military court agreed with the prosecution. “We agree with the military judge’s conclusion that wearing of a beard denigrates the dignity, order and decorum of the court-martial, and is disruptive under the current posture of the case,” the majority ruled in a 4-2 vote.

They also fined Hasan $1,000 for each time that he showed up with the beard. Hasan was found in contempt of court six times for appearing with a beard. adds,

The court concluded that the trial judge, Colonel Gregory Gross, was correct in finding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “does not provide Hasan the right to wear a beard while in uniform during his upcoming court martial,” according to a US Army statement.

The judges agreed that “Hasan did not prove his beard was an expression of a sincerely held religious belief,” it said.

“Additionally, the court went on to say that even if Hasan did wear the beard for a sincere religious reason, compelling government interests also justified (judge) Gross’s order requiring Hasan to comply with Army grooming standards,” it said.

Hasan in photo without beard prior to shooting
It seems that this will continue at least one more level when this should be very simple to rectify. Hasan was a member of the U.S. military and as such he is under their authority, not his own. It is a part of the grooming standards of the Army, as stated above, and since Hasan is still considered a part of the Army, he should be forced to follow the rules. He obviously didn’t have a problem shaving his mug before the massacre.

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