Beard Controversy Continues in Fort Hood Shooter Case
US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was kicked out of the courtroom again for wearing a beard in violation of military grooming standards. The issues of accommodation were already discussed, but this exchange was particularly interesting:
Lead defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe told the judge that Hasan grew the beard as a “deeply sincere” expression of his faith…
“I’ll wait for him to shave if he wants to come back in here,” [Judge Col Gregory] Gross told Hasan’s attorneys. “He has a choice.”
[Attorney LtCol Kris] Poppe responded that it was a choice to “to obey you or his religious faith.”
“That’s not a choice for a soldier,” Gross shot back.
Is Hasan acting in obedience to his religious faith, and is the military obligated to accommodate that obedience?
Public information appears to indicate none of the thousands of Islamic members of the US military currently wear a beard, though members of other religions do. Hasan never had a beard during his prior military career.
Ironically, if Hasan was in the Iraqi Army, he’d be banned from wearing a beard there, too.