Maj. Nidal Hasan (Jail photo)
FORT HOOD (September 6, 2012)—A military judge Thursday ordered Army Maj. Nidal Hasan to shave and warned that Hasan would be forcibly shaved, should he not comply with the order.
The judge then halted all other proceedings until an appeals court rules on the order.
Essentially this is another postponement on the trial, because now both sides can only work on the case through administrative means by filing motions but cannot argue in open court.
Hasan was allowed to stay in the courtroom for more than an hour Thursday while lawyers on both sides argued the issue of his beard.
Judge Col. Gregory Gross issued the order after he heard testimony from both sides about the beard and why Hasan feels he should be able to keep it.
Hasan, through his lawyers, contends he is growing his beard for religious reasons and defense attorneys cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to support Hasan’s claim.
Prosecutors claimed his actions were to allow him to “identify himself with the Mujahedeen” and cited an interview he did with the Arabic television network Al Jazeera during which he mentioned the rebel group.
The defense cited an Army chaplain's findings on Hasan's beard as a sincere religious effort.
Also when arguing for Hasan being allowed to keep the beard lawyers cited Muslim prophet Muhammad as saying to “trim the mustache and let the beard flow,” or grow.
Government prosecutors maintained the beard was an attempt by Hasan to prevent witnesses from identifying him as the gunman during the shootings.
Gross said RFRA does apply in this case and the defense did not meet the burden of proof.
In overruling the motion, Gross said so far "I am not convinced that you have met the first step," in the defenses’ burden of proof.
Following the argument the defense pointed out that Hasan had been in the courtroom for some time Thursday and was well behaved and had no outbursts.
Gross halted the hearing after the order to shave was issued, saying the Army Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces must now make a ruling on Gross’ order.