SAN ANTONIO - A US military judge on Thursday ordered the Fort Hood massacre suspect, Army Major Nidal Hasan, to shave or be forcibly shaved, ruling that his beard is not covered by federal laws protecting religious freedom.
Colonel Gregory Gross ruled following a hearing that Hasan's attorneys failed to prove he has grown the beard, which he has worn since June, for sincerely religious reasons. Hasan, 41, has said he grew the beard in line with the beliefs of his Islamic faith, and that it is part of his free exercise of religion.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 shootings at the sprawling Army base in central Texas.
"Bottom line is, the judge ordered him to be forcibly shaved," Fort Hood spokesman Tyler Broadway said.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled last month that if Gross ordered Hasan to shave, the ruling could be appealed.