Military Law

Denied Religious Exemption, Defendant in Fort Hood Shootings Must Shave Beard Before Court-Martial

An impasse between the Army psychiatrist facing capital charges in a fatal 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, and the military judge who will preside over his court-martial has so far resulted in Maj. Nidal Hasan’s watching pretrial proceedings from closed-circuit television in a trailer outside the courtroom there.

But Col. Gregory Gross now says he wants to avoid a potential appellate issue by having Hasan present during his court martial, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 20. He has held Hasan in contempt, fined him $1,000 and told him he must shave the beard before the trial or it will be shaved for him, reports the Austin Statesman.

Hasan, who said he has grown his beard since June due to his Islamic faith, sought a religious exemption, which was denied. Army grooming regulations prohibit wearing a beard, and previously Gross has enforced the rule by banning Hasan, while bearded, from attending court hearings, and warned him that further sanctions would be forthcoming.

Army regulations also provide a procedure for forcible shaving and state that incidents involving the use of force must be videotaped, the article notes.

KCEN reports that Hasan’s defense is saying he should not be asked to shave during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims which is currently ongoing. Ramadan concludes shortly before Hasan’s court martial is scheduled to begin.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

CNN’s Security Clearance page and United Press International also have stories.

Earlier coverage: “Judge Bans Now-Bearded Fort Hood Shooting Suspect From Military Court”

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