As dozens of talking heads descended on CNN and FOX TV to give their opinions on the Fort Hood massacre last week, no one seemed to notice the significance of the attire that suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan was wearing the morning of the killings. It was captured on a store surveillance video as Maj. Hasan bought a coffee.
CNN's Arab commentator incorrectly reported that the major was wearing "Muslim garb" commonly worn in Jordan, and that it reflected his devoutness as a Muslim. However, to Pakistanis and Afghans watching the clip around the world, his clothing reflected something far more significant and sinister.
Maj. Hasan was wearing the "shalwar-kameez," the traditional attire worn by Pashtuns on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Had Maj. Hasan been of Pakistani or Afghan ancestry, it would have meant very little, but for an Arab-American to wear this attire was significant.
In the Middle East, over five million Pakistanis and Afghans work and live among the local Arab population. The shalwar-kameez is common on the streets of Dubai and Jeddah, but no Arab male would ever want to be seen wearing this garb. I have lived a decade in the Arab world and not once did I see an Arab wearing the shalwar-kameez.