IN a country where suspicion of Muslims as militant-minded continues to persist, thanks to the views repeatedly given vent to by the Bush Administration and despite the best efforts of saner minds to remove it, the Fort Hood incident would provide another opportunity to hostile elements to intensify their propaganda that suicide bombings and such acts of terrorism are product of Islamic teachings. The suspect, who is reported to have entered a major army base at Fort Hood in Texas on Friday and shot 13 dead and wounded 30 others before being injured by a civilian policewoman, turned out to be a Muslim American army psychiatrist of Palestinian extraction, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. In the base commanders opinion, it does not seem to be a terrorist act, and though he has not elaborated the remark, one could conclude that the shooting was the outcome of a personal problem; most probably, the culprit was the stress that he was said to be under in view of his impending deployment in Afghanistan. In fact, the incident is no different from the psychotic acts of other Americans who shot down school children or target fast food restaurants. While Major Hasans motives will be known once the investigation has been completed, the American Muslim community as a whole has become acutely fearful of a backlash of the killings. This is quite understandable in the light of their past experience since 9/11, which showed that even innocents were not spared. Theirs has been an unsavoury and difficult life in general: encroachment on privacy through constant surveillance, undue harassment and even incarceration and torture. Efforts are already afoot by the countrys known Muslim personalities and institutions to clear the air and tell their non-Muslim counterparts (what they have all along been saying) that such wanton acts of brutality are not sanctioned by any religion. And, therefore, the whole lot of the faithful could not be blamed. They have made singular contributions to American life, something that President Obama has acknowledged. Nidals counsin Nader Hasan has been quoted as saying, Our family loves America. We aresaddened by todays tragedy. However, side by side while urging the fellow Americans to remain calm, the Muslims have been compelled to take precautionary measures and have sent out word to fellow Muslims to beef up their personal security and that of mosques and other religious institutions. Much would depend on the US administration and how it provides the maximum possible protection and security to Americas Muslim citizens. That would be in line with President Obamas desire to build bridges with the Muslim world, which he expressed in his landmark speech at Cairo early this year.