It is too soon to have forgotten about the day 39 year old Army Major and psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly killed 13 and wounded 31 others. During the commemoration of Veterans Day, just days after the shootings, President Obama encouraged Americans to remember those whose lives were lost, as well as those who were injured in the tragedy at the army base located in Fort Hood, Texas.
In response to the President’s request, men representing four faiths joined together and sat shoulder to shoulder to talk about the tragedy and how Muslims are viewed in the aftermath. The Rev. Timothy Ahrens of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Downtown Columbus, Ohio, and Rabbi Michael Ungar of Congregation Tifereth Israel, said they wanted to show solidarity with their Muslim friends. Along with Imam Hany Saqr of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Hilliard,Ohio, they talked about how Islam as a whole should not be blamed for the acts of one deeply troubled person. Each faith also was represented by a military veteran extending his support for the message. Jim Kyle, a Christian Vietnam veteran, joined Mahmoud El-Yousseph, a Muslim with 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and the Ohio Air National Guard (according to The Columbus Dispatch). Also at the meeting was Mohammed Ballouz, a Muslim who helps train U.S. troops who work with Arab populations.
For Norman Hosansky, an 85-year-old Jewish World War II veteran, there are similarities between the hurdles Muslims face and historic prejudices. “Every time I hear the word Muslim, I could put the word Jew in it. I could put the word black in it,” he said.
The three Muslim men at the meeting voiced their frustration that some people characterize the whole faith by the violent acts of a few like Hasan. “Every faith has its extremists,” Saqr said. In the wake of the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombings involving Timothy McVeigh, the 1999 Columbine Massacre involving 2 high school students, the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre, involving a psychologically imbalanced young man, none of the perpetrator’s faiths were mentioned as Christian, Jew, Hindu, or whatever they may have been. In the case of Fort Hood, and similar incidents, too much emphasis is being placed on the suspects’ faith, and alleged connection to Islam.
Sami Shakir, Editor of the Daily Lobo says, “He [ Nidal Malik Hassan] betrayed his medical oath to protect and safeguard human life, a noble Islamic principle.” [And whoever safeguards a life, it is as if he saved all humanity-Holy Quran 5.32].