Fort Hood suspect explains controversial beard

Undated photo of Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shootings AP Photo/Bell County Sheriff's Department via The Temple Daily Telegram

(CBS/AP) FORT HOOD, Texas - The U.S. Army psychiatrist charged in a deadly shooting rampage has told a judge he grew a beard because his Muslim faith requires it.

Maj. Nidal Hasan spoke in court for the first time Thursday since showing up with a beard in violation of Army regulations in June. The judge threatened to have him forcibly shaved.

Hasan says he isn't trying to disrespect the judge's authority. But the judge held Hasan in contempt for a sixth time and sent him to a nearby room to watch proceedings on closed-circuit television.

Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted in the 2009 attack that killed 13 and wounded more than two dozen others in Texas.

Military attorneys told an appeals court last week the judge has the right to order Hasan to be forcibly shaved before his murder trial.

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The attorneys, in a document filed on behalf of Col. Gregory Gross, contend that forcibly shaving Maj. Nidal Hasan would not violate the American-born Muslim's religious freedoms and said it is similar to "and no more invasive than" a judge's right to restrain a defendant who is disruptive during a court-martial.

"Forced shaving is not a novel concept in the military," military attorneys said in the judge's response filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. "Army regulations expressly authorize nonconsensual haircutting and face-shaving for recalcitrant incarcerated soldiers. ... If the judge has authority to bind and gag a disruptive accused (soldier), then certainly he has authority to forcibly shave (Hasan)."

An appeals court has delayed Hasan's court-martial, which had been set to start last week with jury selection, while it considers his appeal to being forcibly shaved.

Hasan's defense attorneys have said he won't shave since he's had a premonition that his death is imminent, and he doesn't want to die without a beard because he believes not having one is a sin.

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