IF HE HEADS NORTH TO CANADA, LEFTIES WILL BE WELCOMING HIM HERE WITH OPEN ARMS…
Muslim soldier claims to be conscientious objector
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A U.S. Army soldier wants to leave the military service as a conscientious objector based on his beliefs as a Muslim, but he says he’s concerned he may be deployed to Afghanistan anyway.
Pfc. Naser Abdo, a 20-year-old infantryman assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., said Monday that if the military orders him to deploy, he will refuse to go despite the fact that it may result in a military charge against him.
Rick Rzepka, a Fort Campbell spokesman, said Abdo’s deployment has been deferred, but the military could deploy him while a decision was being made on his request. According to Army regulations, a soldier’s submission of a conscientious objector application will not preclude the soldier from deploying. His unit, the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, has already deployed to Afghanistan. He was assigned to the brigade’s rear detachment, which remains at the installation during deployments.
“Obviously the unit is taking it very seriously,” Rzepka said. “They have decided to go ahead and let the process play out, and if he warrants status as conscientious objector, he will be treated as such. But for right now, his deployment has been deferred.”
Abdo said when he joined the Army more than a year ago, he initially felt he could be a soldier and a Muslim at the same time. But he said he now believes Islamic standards would prohibit his service in the U.S. Army in any war.
According to documents provided to The Associated Press, Abdo cited Islamic scholars and verses from the Quran as reasons for his decision to ask for separation from the Army.
“I realized through further reflection that God did not give legitimacy to the war in Afghanistan, Iraq or any war the U.S. Army would conceivably participate in,” he wrote.
He also said he was harassed during basic training because of his religion, including hearing insulting comments about Islam and Muslims. He said that at times, he hasn’t been able to make his daily prayers because of his military service.
A recommendation from the commander of his battalion’s rear detachment based at Fort Campbell said if Abdo deployed to a combat zone, he could jeopardize the lives of fellow soldiers as well as his own because of his convictions as a conscientious objector.
Abdo said he filed his request in June but was still sent through the soldier readiness program for deploying soldiers. According to Army regulations, after submitting his request he should be interviewed by a chaplain and a psychologist and should have a hearing by an investigating officer. But he said none of this has happened yet, and he is concerned that his leadership will deploy him before a decision is made on his status as a conscientious objector.
“I believe that they wanted to deploy me all along,” he said. “They’ve prepared me for deployment, and I’ve been getting conflicting information on deployment dates.”
But he said he is prepared to refuse deployment orders and face any charges that may be filed as a result.