A radical for the ages.
As an American physician who is Muslim, I feel a profound sense of anger and betrayal.
Anger that the alleged perpetrator of the heinous Fort Hood massacre was a Muslim. Anger that someone born and raised in this great land could do such a thing. And anger, above all, that a doctor reportedly did it — a man who had taken the solemn oath repeated by all of us upon graduation from medical school.
In declaring the Hippocratic Oath, we all proclaim our commitment to practice ethical and moral medicine. We all understand the fundamental precept taught in medical school — “primum non nocere,” a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.”
As an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan was entrusted to ease the anguish and suffering of his fellow soldiers who witnessed firsthand the horrors of war. If the charges against him are proven, he betrayed these soldiers utterly and mercilessly.
I feel betrayed by the actions of Hasan on an entirely different level, however. I feel betrayed as a Muslim from a devout family.
Our beautiful faith teaches us compassion and mercy and is one of the main reasons I sought to become a physician.
As a first-year medical student, I joined my classmates — approximately 120 aspiring physicians — in purchasing a sphygmomanometer, a device used to measure blood pressure manually. I had the words “In the service of Allah” engraved on the gauge, serving as a constant reminder to me of this commitment.
I also feel betrayed as an Arab-American.
I am proud of my roots, my identity and my country. My immigrant parents raised my siblings and me to be proud of our heritage (Palestinian) and proud of our home (America). They raised six children, three of whom are physicians. If they were alive today, they would feel this wound even more sharply — as I am certain Hasan’s parents would, as well.
After the tragedy of 9/11, Arab-Americans and American Muslims have worked incessantly to clear the “guilt by association” with which our communities have been tainted.
The Fort Hood murders are a huge setback.
Dr. Riad Z. Abdelkarim, formerly a lifelong resident of Southern California, is the director of medical affairs at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.