Shootings at the Fort Hood base in Texas have left four soldiers dead, including the gunman, and sixteen injured. Many commentators were quick to speculate that the gunman (like Nidal Hasan) might have been a Muslim. He has now been named as Ivan Lopez, and it is being reported that he was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety.
Pat Dollard, a film maker and contributor to Breitbart, has been widely condemned for this inflammatory tweet:
If there is even one more act of Muslim terrorism, it is then time for Americans to start slaughtering Muslims in the streets, all of them.
Most responded along these lines:
‘that’s not just insane, but flat-out evil’
but 135 people were happy to ‘favourite’ this call for mass, indiscriminate murder.
Western Muslims’ own attitudes towards the armed forces vary widely. And it’s one of those issues where the more extreme voices on both sides speak as one. Whereas some Muslims view the idea of their co-religionists joining the army with as much loathing and suspicion as counter-jihadist types, others are celebrating the growing popularity of the army as a career (there are now 40% more British Muslims in the armed services than there were back in 2007).
“Our faith teaches us resilience. Of course, taking life is something you think about when you first deploy operationally… but Britain is a special place to be and we all have to contribute to keep it like that.”
On the delicate subject of taking Muslim life, Mr Hafiz is frank. “We can’t shy away from the dangers out there, but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been misunderstood as wars against Muslims,” he explains.
“Soldiers, whether Muslim or not, don’t talk about taking life openly, but just because a Muslim or a person of faith joins the military, it doesn’t mean they lose their soul… our armed forces train soldiers to be conscious and ask moral questions about the rules of war – I think that says something about the quality of our armed forces.”
There are currently around 3,700 Muslims serving in the US army, and recently some concessions have been offered to soldiers (from different faiths) who have religious requirements, as long as they can be accommodated without jeopardising operational effectiveness.