An American Muslim organization is asking the U.S. Army to deny a Muslim soldier’s request for conscientious objector status, accusing him of treason and urging the military to punish him to the full extent of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Pfc. Naser Abdo, a 20-year-old infantryman who joined the Army one year ago, filed for conscientious objector status in June, saying his faith and the military don't mix. "As a Muslim, we stand against injustice, we stand against discrimination, and I feel it's my duty as an individual to do this," Abdo told FoxNews.com.
The Army has deferred his scheduled deployment to Afghanistan.
But the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) says Abdo's claim is “patently false.”
"Muslims serve with distinction throughout the United States Military and AIFD sees Abdo’s traitorous public assertions as a slap in the face to all American Muslims especially those Muslims who fight in our armed forces for the liberty and freedom guaranteed by the American Constitution," the group said in a statement it issued on Friday.
Said Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of AIFD: “Abdo’s actions are an affront to every American Muslim who has proudly donned a U.S. military uniform. His assertions are not built on Islamic teachings but on a feeble adherence to the global political ideology of Islamism that threatens our security and radicalizes our Muslim youth.”
Abdo said that in addition to conflicting with his religion beliefs, his military duties were also consuming every part of his day and interfering with his religious duties. "I knew that if I went to Afghanistan and, God forbid, something were to happen, that my faith was so weak that I wouldn't be admitted into heaven," he said.
But AIFD on Friday called Abdo’s claim a cowardly attempt to use his faith to make a political statement and said it belies the religious experience of the vast majority of Muslim-American troops who have found the time to perform their spiritual rituals.
“The Military has made the application for CO status extremely clear so that soldiers, sailors and marines can not abuse the system and run from their military responsibility,” said Jasser, a former lieutenant commander in the United States Navy.
Fort Campbell spokeswoman Kelly DeWitt said Abdo's deployment had been deferred, but according to Army regulations he may be deployed to Afghanistan at any time like other members of his unit.
"The Army recognizes that even in our all-volunteer force, a soldier's moral, ethical or religious beliefs may change over time," an Army statement read. "The Army and Fort Campbell has procedures in place for soldiers who declare themselves to be conscientious objectors and who apply for conscientious objector status."
AIFD says it hopes the military denies Abdo’s claim and punishes him to the full extent of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The group is also asking other American Muslim organizations to speak out and make it clear that no loyal American Muslim should ever seek CO status.
Abdo's attorney, James Branum, says if Abdo's claim is denied, he can re-file with new evidence, seek to take the matter to a federal civilian court, refuse to deploy or drop the matter altogether. He acknowledged that Abdo could go to jail if he refuses to obey orders to deploy.
"We're trying to avoid that kind of showdown," Branum told FoxNews.com. "At this moment, Abdo is in a place where he's not going to violate his conscience."