Nidal Hasan’s beard can be forcibly shaved before he goes on trial for killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in 2009, military attorneys argued to an appeals court.
The attorneys contend that forcibly shaving Nidal Hasan would not violate his freedom of religion and claimed that a ruling allowing the shaving would be no more invasive than a judge ordering a disruptive defendant to be restrained, The Associated Press reported.
The shaving would also follow in the US military’s tradition of forced haircutting, attorneys argued.
“Forced shaving is not a novel concept in the military,” the attorneys said in the judge’s response filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. “Army regulations expressly authorize nonconsensual haircutting and face-shaving for recalcitrant incarcerated soldiers. … If the judge has authority to bind and gag a disruptive accused (soldier), then certainly he has authority to forcibly shave [Hasan].”
The appeal over Nidal Hasan’s beard has delayed his court-martial, Reuters reported. The court can now make a decision or choose to hear oral arguments in the case, The Associated Press reported.
Nidal Hasan says his beard is an expression of his Muslim faith, and, after having a premonition of his death, he refuses to shave it as he believes dying without a beard is a sin.
The judge had banned Hasan from courtroom proceedings after he showed up with a beard, instead letting the accused watch from a closed-circuit television in a nearby room. Attorneys for the military want the beard issue settled so Nidal Hasan can be present for his court martial. Otherwise, it could leave the door open for a possible appeal if he is convicted.
Nidal Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted of the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood.