Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, December 21, 2009
The lead lawyer for Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan said Monday that he believes the Army is violating Hasan’s religious rights because it prohibited him from praying from the Quran in Arabic with a relative.
Attorney John P. Galligan said he learned that police guarding Hasan at Brooke Army Medical Center cut short a phone conversation Hasan was having with one of his brothers on Friday because Hasan was not speaking in English.
“Police at the hospital refused to let him pray, in Arabic, from the Quran with his brother,” Galligan said. “I think it’s illegal and a violation of his religious rights.”
Hasan practices Islam, a religion whose followers hold that Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers are one of its most strongly affirmed duties.
His [Hasan’s] command, the Army’s III Corps at Fort Hood in Killeen, has imposed pretrial restrictions on him, including a requirement that he speak only in English with visitors or those he talks to on the phone unless an Army-approved translator is present.
“He’s under military control,” said Jeffrey Addicott, a former Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer for 20 years, who now heads the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law. “They can put reasonable restrictions on his movements and activities. The question is what is reasonable. In light of the fact that he is clearly influenced by radical jihad, in my opinion, it’s entirely reasonable to limit his spoken activities to English.”
English is Hasan’s primary language, and he learned Arabic later in life, according to news accounts. Addicott argued that because Arabic is not Hasan’s primary language and there may not be Arabic-speaking guards available, the military is justified in its restrictions.