By Yasser Latif Hamdani
An Arab American Army Psychiatrist, Major Nadal Malik Hasan, opened fire after allegedly shouting Allah hu Akbar. The immediate consequence, 13 brave Americans who had signed to serve their country are dead on their own base. It is true that soldiers are put in harm’s way but that decision is not taken by the soldiers themselves. Soldiers of any country are brave young men and women who have signed up to defend their country. To be subjected to a cowardly attack by one of their own is therefore tragic. We at PTH and in Pakistan join the families of those soldiers who died at Fort Hood in mourning those who lost their lives due to this unnecessary and senseless act of cowardice and butchery.
The long term consequences of the actions of Major Hasan will obviously be much bigger especially for the 8-15 million Muslims residing in the United States either as citizens or as residents. I know of many patriotic young American Muslims serving in the United States Army, Air Force and the Navy. Their loyalties will become suspect- after all what would we do if a Christian soldier in the Pakistan Army suddenly opened fire on Pakistani Muslim soldiers? And it won’t stop there. Muslims everywhere will be looked at with suspicion.
As investigation into this terrible act is carried out we will no doubt realize that this tragedy has its roots in an erroneous interpretation of Islam favored by some radical clerics which cannot distinguish, in a strict juristic sense, between a state-ordained just war and mindless and purpose violence by non-state actors. Therefore now more than ever the US must now engage with the silent majority of the common Muslims as well the Muslim clerics who don’t offer such erroneous interpretations of the faith.
Muslims in the West must realize that Western systems provide the levellest playing field available for all. The way to tackle your grievances is to adopt the constitutional and legal means, by using the ballot not the bullet, by excelling in science and technology, by becoming economically successful and by lobbying your representatives. And if you are still unsatisfied or disagree with the foreign policy, leave. After all no one forced Nadal Hasan to join the US Army. Once he joined it was his moral duty to stand by his fellow officers in the uniform and live by the code that was applicable to him. If he was so disaffected why didn’t he leave the army first? Why didn’t he migrate back to his ancestral homeland? He didn’t because America gave him an education, a first rate one at Virginia Tech, and livelihood. And America trusted him with the lives of its finest and bravest without any thought about his faith.
He can claim all the racial and religious discrimination but the truth is that Major Nadal Malik Hasan was a serving soldier of the US Army the day he decided to kill his fellow comrades. No one fired him despite his fiery declarations that US was wrong and when he told other soldiers that he was happy about US soldiers getting killed. He must have upset a lot of people, but unlike our Mullahs, no American soldier laid a finger on him.
Today he is being treated alongside those he wounded in the same hospital where the dead from the shooting were brought in. And what else- in the coming days and months he will get the opportunity he didn’t give his fellow soldiers i.e. the opportunity to be heard, the opportunity of due process, the opportunity to tell his side. He will not be condemned unheard- perhaps then a sense of shame and remorse will set in and he will realize what a terrible thing he has done to his comrades in arms.