Hasan Fined by Military Court for Religious Beard

Accused Fort Hood shooter US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan — yes, he is still in the US Army — has been fined by his military judge for refusing to shave.  Hasan is required to abide by military dress and personal appearance regulations, which generally prohibit beards.  (As noted earlier, beards are also prohibited in the militaries of some predominantly Islamic countries.)

Beards are a violation of Army regulations. Hasan’s attorneys say he keeps declining to shave because he believes that doing so would violate his Muslim faith. 

Presiding judge Col Gregory Gross has apparently told Hasan he could be forcibly shaved:

Gross said Hasan would be forcibly shaved at some point before his Aug. 20 trial if he doesn’t shave the beard himself. He said he wants Hasan in the courtroom during the court-martial to prevent a possible appeal on the issue if he is convicted.

It is not without precedent for someone to become ‘more religious’ after they join the military.  Most people who then find their “new” beliefs inconsistent with the military seek status as a conscientious objector.  Since they are bound by military regulations while they are in the military, people who develop such beliefs have two choices:  continue to abide by regulations they said they would obey, or disobey them and accept the consequences.  That may mean court-martial and imprisonment in some cases.

Forced shaving, though, that’s a new one.  Think Michael Weinstein will be along to claim Col Gross is a Christian extremist enraging al Qaeda by persecuting Hasan’s religious beliefs?  Weinstein already said Christianity was responsible for the Fort Hood massacre, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.  It probably wouldn’t be good PR, though, which is generally the standard by which Weinstein acts.