The story of Major Nidal …. Real or fiction.
‘What do you think about his motive?” a national newspaper reporter casually asked me in a telephone interview, as if Muslim Americans should have a different insight about the motives of other Muslims that is not available to the rest of the world, call it the “Muslim man burden” Muslims, I had to admit in fact, have special psychic skill not available to other humans, and, therefore, can explain the misbehaving Muslims all over the world? That we really do all know what motivates the 1.5 billon of our brothers and sisters, those apparently chronically angry Muslims who are committing suicide and burning the American flag on the streets of Kabul, Baghdad, Karachi, Gaza, Cairo and, of course, Major Nidal Hasan? In spite of the fact that he is an American, born here, educated here and that he committed a crime that is, tragically, not all that uncommon in America—even worthy of its own slang term “going postal”—somehow, when it comes to American Muslims, “going postal” becomes “going Islamic.”
“What first came to your mind when you heard the news of the shooting in Texas?” came the interviewer’s sympathetic voice over the phone. “What do you think Major Nidal real motive”. She added almost apologetically . Major Nidal real motive has been going through my mind millions of times ever since. I thought to myself perhaps Major Nidal’s hidden motive as in all American Muslims arrived at birth and was carried as a burden all his life, the call for “Jihad” that started nagging him once he was given the name Nidal—which means ‘jihad’ or political struggle in Arabic. What is in his name summaries very much Major Nidal life, struggling for identity and who he really is. This name was given as it is customary in the Arab/Muslim culture to him by his Palestinian parents as inspirational guidance to his future life, his parents who had lived under the Israeli occupation for years before moving to the U.S. The name itself was a heavy burden that Major Nidal had struggled all his ordinary life , one that was apparently devoid of real love, family or friends, a lonesome life for a lonely man because of his ethnicity and religion, teased frequently by his peers and friends whose trust he never gained. His name never allowed him to brush his past aside and forget. ‘Nidal”, Nidal’, Nidal”, people keep calling for Nidal everywhere he goes. A constant reminder to what is required of him as a Palestinian who lives in American. Did he think that his parents didn’t name him “Nidal’ just to sit down and listen to other people struggle and forget his own? Major Nidal who never risked anything in his life, made all the right decision easy decisions and became a doctor, his parents given name always reminding him of their suffering in Palestine through occupation and humiliation, played out every evening as a child listening to his parents bed stories about the Palestinian and the Muslim victims milieu. There wasn’t any picture of a tree, a bird or even a naked woman to comfort him at night when no one is looking. Instead , pictures of Palestinians children on his bedroom wall , their faces full of anguish and fear a reminder of that and whispered to him at night to never forget, verses of the Quran framed on his living room wall asked of him? To fight those infidels where you face them. As in his all his Marin training where they asked of him to kill the bad guys. Everyone is asking of him to act, to be a man., to be a noble killer. At breakfast table, setting silently staring at his pita bread and feta cheese thinking of afar place where they came from, and the innocent hand that made them. Spending all his evening watching the gruesome images of Arabs/Palestine victims flashing on Al Jazeera TV. Major Nidal grew up with a conscious that had been socking confliction images of two worlds, a world of his people demise and suffering and his new country growing up as military man, It must have been hard for him to hear all those terrible tragic stories happening to his Muslim brothers all over the world.; adding salt to his tragic wounds.
Unlike most Americans whom they were shield from the horrible of their wars to protect American sensitivities , Nidal wasn’t as lucky, he was seeing it all and heard it all first hand; The heavy burden of an American Muslim psychiatrist who on a daily basis listened to the harrowing stories of his American countrymen and comrades describing horrible events, most likely committed against his Muslim brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan. All his life he has helped Americans with their tortured souls, but he never really came to term and helped his own.
Every time he hears his name “Nidal” he always asks himself about the real “Nidal”, the real struggle. A nagging question that hijacked his mind with hunting memories that never left him in peace. The suffering of the unfulfilled, unremarkable man, who never before had had the courage or had taken such a great risk, who with one outrageous action, could turn his ordinary miserable life into an extraordinary and infamous one, a lonely life was scarified to be part of a bigger than his own mundane one; he heard strange voices in his head asking him to pull the trigger, asking him to shout “Allah Akbar” and open the gate to heaven, the paradise is now, be a martyr, the virgins are waiting for you, the man who himself was a 39 year old virgin started shooting, …
Ahmed Tharwat/ Host of Arab American TV show BelAhdan
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