"F*** YOU RAGHEAD, BURN IN HELL" says sign on Fort Hood Muslim soldier's door

Can you blame them? Muslim soldier at Fort Hood faces anger from fellow soldiers.

At 2 o’clock on a Monday morning, the sound of angry pounding sent Army Spec. Zachari Klawonn bolting out of bed.  THUD. THUD. THUD. Someone was mule-kicking the door of his barracks room, leaving marks that weeks later — long after Army investigators had come and gone — would still be visible.

Zachari Klawonn about to pray

By the time Klawonn reached the door, the pounding had stopped. All that was left was a note, twice folded and wedged into the doorframe. “F— YOU RAGHEAD BURN IN HELL” read the words scrawled in black marker.

The slur itself was nothing new. Klawonn, 20, the son of an American father and a Moroccan mother, had been called worse in the military. But the fact that someone had tracked him down in the dead of night to deliver this specific message sent a chill through his body. Ever since he enlisted, he has been filing complaint after complaint with his commanders. After he was ordered not to fast and pray. After his Koran was torn up. After other soldiers jeered and threw water bottles at him. After his platoon sergeant warned him to hide his faith to avoid getting a “beating” by fellow troops. But nothing changed.

Then came the November shootings at Fort Hood and the arrest of a Muslim soldier he’d never met: Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, who is charged with killing 13 people and injuring more than 30 in a massacre that stunned the nation. And with it, things only got worse. Staring at the note in his hands that dark February morning, Klawonn trembled with panic and frustration. His faith, he believed, had made him a marked man in the Army. Now the November rampage had only added to his visibility. (Awwww, gee I wonder why?)

For Klawonn, this is what it means to be a Muslim soldier in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings: You hide your flowing jalebi robes in your closet. You watch your words and actions, censoring anything that could be interpreted as anger. You do so even as you try to ignore the names piled on you. Sand monkey. Carpet jockey. Raghead. Zachari bin Laden. Nidal Klawonn. (Carpet Jockey, I’ll have to remember than one)

But the hardest to shake off — the name that cuts deepest, especially for a man who defied his family and community to become a U.S. soldier — is this one: TERRORIST

Nearly everyone on base knows someone who was scarred physically or mentally by the violence of that November day. When the identity of the suspected shooter emerged — a Muslim major — the response was almost instant.

“Hey, Klawonn, your brother just shot them up.” “We better check Klawonn for weapons.” “Don’t piss him off, he’s gonna go Hasan on us.”

Even the more well-meaning soldiers pressed him to explain a brutal act and extremist philosophy that he himself couldn’t fathom. Instead, he denounced the shootings to anyone and everyone. Within 72 hours of the rampage, reports of discrimination against Muslims increased by 20 percent, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group. “There were soldiers calling in crying on the phone,” founder Mikey Weinstein said. “They were hearing things like, ‘You can’t be trusted,’ ‘Go back to your own country.’ “


Klawonn’s mother reacted to his enlistment like this: Have you thought this through? What if you go to Iraq? Friends and others at his mosque grilled him, too: Are you really going to kill fellow Muslims? Is this not haram, forbidden?

At Fort Bliss in El Paso, he spoke up about his problems at a unit-wide equal opportunity training session. Two days later, in an episode that other soldiers saw, he walked into the barracks to find the Koran from his locker ripped apart and strewn across the laundry room floor. At Fort Hood, after another string of incidents, he finally broke down, sobbing in the offices of his two direct commanders. (Bet he didn’t cry after his fellow soldiers were massacred)


Their solution — confirmed by his current commanders at Fort Hood — was to send him to Korea, selling it as a fresh start with a new unit in a foreign culture. On his first day there, his sergeant responded to his request to pray and fast this way: “If I catch you praying during a duty day, I’m going to smoke the dog piss out of you. You understand me?”

While he was home, his mother heard about Muslims gathering for a lobbying event in Tallahassee and sent Klawonn to join them. What he saw there changed him. He returned to Fort Hood this month a different man, no longer content to stay inside the lines of command with his complaints. He had the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group in Washington, send a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. He also agreed to meet with a reporter from The Washington Post. (This ought get him a good beating)

Commanders at Fort Hoodquickly sensing a storm of controversy approaching  told him to tread carefully. This is Fort Hood, they said, where no one has forgotten the November shootings. You need to be cautious about the attention you’re getting because you fit a similar mold as the suspect: Frustrated Muslim soldier, talking about Islam and the Army’s lack of respect.

This only fired him up more. “You’re looking at me as the problem?” Klawonn vented after one meeting. “What about the real problem: the soldiers threatening me, the ignorant slurs? What about the lack of cultural training?” (Cultural training my ass. You need to get out of the Army before you kill some more soldiers) WASHINGTON POST

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