Fort Hood Tragedy, Islam, and America - updated 8/4/2013

Sheila Musaji

Posted Aug 4, 2013      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Fort Hood Tragedy, Islam, and America

(updates at the bottom of the article)

by Sheila Musaji

First I must say that as a Muslim, as an American, and as a human being - I cannot understand how anyone can commit such an act.  The “fact” that Maj. Hasan was a Muslim and so am I does not give me any understanding of his action - the fact that we are both Americans does not give me any understanding of his action - the fact that we are both human beings does not give me any understanding of his action.  The shooting at Fort Hood was a criminal act.  A person who could do such a thing is either mentally unbalanced, a sociopath, or a psycopath.  With the information we have so far there is no way to tell what category Maj. Hasan falls under.

If he was harassed because of his religion, if he had an unhappy family life, if he wanted out of the military, if he had had a change of heart and did not want to serve in Afghanistan or Iraq - none of this changes the fact that what he did was criminal.  He could have asked for conscientious objector status.  Even if the Army was not following their own protocol and refused to let him resign his commission, he could have gone to jail rather than go overseas, or he could have gone AWOL and taken his chances - at least that would not have hurt so many others.  Maj. Hasan betrayed his country, he betrayed his military oath, he betrayed his medical oath, he betrayed his religion. 

Ray Hanania, an American Arab Christian who served in the military has some cogent observations from experience:  “The reality is that thousands of Arabs and Muslims have served in the military, including myself. I served during the Vietnam War and have both an honorable discharge and a Vietnam Era Service ribbon, among other recognitions. Bigotry and racism existed in the U.S. Air Force even when I served in it in the early 1970s. My colleagues called me such names as “sand nigger” and “camel jockey.” Officers and enlisted personnel challenged me: “Who’s side will you be on if we have to go fight in the (1973) Arab-Israeli war?” they would ask.  Among my best friends in the military were two Muslim brothers who suffered similar taunts. Yet, those incidents did not discourage me from continuing my service in the Illinois Air National guard for 10 more years.”

At Fort Hood there have been other soldiers who objected to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and refused deployment.  Just a few months ago Spc. Victor Agosto refused to deploy to Afghanistan over his beliefs that the war violates international law.  He was sentenced to a month in jail, had his rank reduced, and will receive an administrative discharge.  Another soldier, Travis Bishop refused to deploy because of his religious beliefs which he said had become stronger over time. 

Understanding the “why” of this tragedy may be possible after all the investigations are done, and if Maj. Hasan recovers enough, or is mentally stable eno