A shooting rampage carried out by US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan that killed 13 and injured 31 in Fort hood, Texas has once again put Muslims in America under the spotlight – especially those serving in the army.
Moments after Major Hasan was announced as the suspected shooter, there was clear discomfort among newscasters and commentators regarding his religious and ethnic background. It's also been widely reported that Muslim service members have sometimes faced attacks from fellow services members.
Howard M. Friedman, Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Toledo, says in his blog ReligionClause:
“The military has been actively recruiting Muslims with the linguistic skills and cultural understanding needed to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However Muslims in the service face suspicion by some of their officers. “
Whatever suspicions of Muslim service members existed before the shootings, one can only fear that they may have been heightened by the mass murder in Fort Hood. Questions are still being raised as to whether Major Hasan was an extremist who carried out the attack based on religious ideology or he was simply mentally ill.
In Canada, writer Gwynne Dyer, at Vancouver weekly free paper Straight.com, argues that pointing out the murderer's religion overlooks some very serious issues:
“After a few days while the commentariat hesitated before competing narratives, the media are settling on the explanation that it was ethnic/racial/religious abuse that drove Nidal crazy. Bad people doing un-American things were ultimately responsible for the tragedy, and there’s an end to it.
The one explanation that is excluded is that America’s wars in Muslim lands overseas are radicalizing Muslims at home. Never mind that the homegrown Muslim terrorists who attacked the London transport system in 2005, and the various Muslim plotters who have been caught in other Western countries before their plans came to fruition, have almost all blamed the Western invasions of Muslim countries for radicalizing them. Never mind, above all, that what really radicalized them was the fact that those invasions made no sense in terms of Western security.”
Fox News, often criticized for its bias on issues related to immigration and conservative politics, is reportedly calling for the “screening of Muslims” in the army. At the Veterans Today website, a retired officer of the United States Coast Guard, Tom Barnes, says the news channel is playing up the stereotype to create “us versus them” tensions:
“… the news channel is being very “unhelpful” to say the least if this initially reasonable question soon turns into another Fox Channel crusade against “them”. This stuff is not only getting old, it is dangerous. The story is here.
As I have previously pointed out, this kind of thing has happened before in the U.S. Armed Forces. I am getting tired of Fox News telling me who my enemies are. All the time. Non stop. I had no idea there were so many “thems” out there!”
A number of newspapers are now examining how Major Hasan's actions will affect Muslims serving the in US army, and Muslim residents around Fort Hood.
Here is a video report by euroamericannews on YouTube about how some Fort Hood Muslims view the events.
As the investigation of the massacre continues, the spotlight on Muslims serving in the army will likely continue.