LONG HISTORY OF US ABUSE OF THE QURAAN KAREEM
Recent reports of the desecration of the Quran at the hands of US Forces in Afghanistan have sparked outrage all over the Muslim world. US Officials including President Obama have subsequently apologised. However, the long history of such incidents emanating from American quarters have caused some to question the governments intentions.
Reproduced below are some archive news reports related to American desecrations of the Quran.
May 14, 2005
Pentagon Probes Detainee Reports Of Koran Dumping
By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Some Muslims detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have complained that U.S. soldiers dumped their Korans into the toilet. After riots this week in Afghanistan that were sparked by reports of the allegations, Pentagon officials said they are investigating.
But top U.S. military officials said they have not confirmed any such desecrations of the Islamic holy book at Guantanamo Bay. Defiling the Koran or otherwise showing disrespect for the detainees’ Muslim faith is strictly against U.S. policy at the prison, military officials said.
Earlier this year, lawyers representing Kuwaitis held at Guantanamo said their clients told them that military police threw at least one Koran into a toilet. A released Afghan named Ehsannullah told The Washington Post in 2003 that U.S. soldiers taunted him by doing the same thing. Three Britons released last year also said Korans were put into toilets by U.S. guards.
Riots began in Afghanistan and Pakistan this week in part because of a Newsweek report that military investigators had confirmed allegations by FBI agents on detainee abuse, including an incident in which at least one Koran was thrown into a toilet. But military sources said yesterday that FBI agents made no such allegation and that the military did not look into Koran desecration.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said Thursday that while an investigation found one case in which a detainee clogged a toilet with pages ripped from the Koran, as well as times when detainees were irritated when guards touched Korans, no cases of Americans putting a Koran in a toilet had been found so far.
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
Dozens Have Alleged Koran’s Mishandling; Complaints by inmates in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba emerged early. In 2003, the Pentagon set a sensitivity policy after trouble at Guantanamo.
Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, Calif.
Richard A. Serrano and John Daniszewski
May 22, 2005
Five former prisoners have told The Times of Koran desecration. Jamal Harith, a British Muslim, said interrogators at Guantanamo often kicked or knocked his Koran around. He said guards once deliberately targeted his holy book while hosing down his cell.
It is his 11th and final allegation that in today’s clamor over the Koran that stands out. Ali said U.S. soldiers repeatedly desecrated the Koran in front of him and other prisoners, “including having a military dog pick up the Koran in its mouth.”
Red Cross ‘raised Koran concerns’
BBC Thursday, 19 May, 2005
The ICRC has said the US was aware of reports that its officials had showed disrespect towards Islam’s holy book at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
The comments come days after US weekly Newsweek retracted a report about desecration of the Koran at the centre.
The ICRC gave no details of the nature of the disrespectful incidents it said it reported “multiple times” to the US.
The Pentagon confirmed that the ICRC had approached “on rare occasion” with allegations from detainees.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said log entries from Guantanamo had included incidents such as a Koran falling to the floor by accident.
Washington has endeavoured to quell anger in the Muslim world after the publication of Newsweek’s article, which sparked violent protests. It said “lasting damage” had been done to its image.
At least 15 people were killed in anti-US riots on Afghanistan.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had reported the allegations in confidence to Pentagon officials many times in 2002 and 2003.
ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno said he believed the US had acted on the information.
“The US government took corrective measures and those allegations have not resurfaced,” Mr Schorno said.
On Monday, Newsweek said its report that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet was based on flawed sources.
“ The US government took corrective measures and those allegations have not resurfaced ”
Simon Schorno ICRC spokesman
As well as the deaths in Afghanistan, more than 100 people were injured in violent protests across the Muslim world, from Pakistan to Indonesia, following the initial publication.
Insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as blasphemy and punishable by death in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The White House said it was now Newsweek’s obligation to help reverse the effects of its report.
Newsweek’s original story claimed that a military investigation was set to reveal evidence of desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo.
It followed repeated allegations by former prisoners at the camp in Cuba that interrogators had prevented them from worshipping or had sought ways to insult their faith.
But on 16 May, the magazine said the investigation in question had not looked at the desecration charges, and that its sources had also backed away from the story.
U.S. admits abuses to Qur’an in Guantanamo
Saturday, June 4, 2005
The U.S. Pentagon confirmed Friday a list of abuses involving the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, by American personnel at Guantanamo Bay, but said the incidents were relatively minor.
A story published in Newsweek last month accused an American serviceman of flushing a copy of the Qur’an down a toilet.
That story was later retracted, but it touched off demonstrations around the world, including deadly protests in Afghanistan in which 17 died.
The latest confirmed abuses are contained in a report put together by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba.
They include: splashing urine on a prisoner and his Qur’an, stepping on and kicking the Qur’an, throwing water on it, and scratching an obscenity on the inside cover.
Although none of the abuses can be said to be as severe as the unfounded allegation, they still represent a list of incidents that will shock and horrify Muslims around the world.
Adherents of Islam consider the Qur’an to be the word of God as delivered directly to the prophet Muhammad.
In a statement Hood said his investigation “revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Qur’an dating back almost two and a half years.”
He said only five incidents could be confirmed during that time of American personnel mishandling the Qur’an. He said he found 15 cases of detainees mishandling their own Qur’ans, including “attempting to flush a Qur’an down the toilet and urinating on the Qur’an.”
The statement did not provide any explanation about why the detainees might have abused their own holy books.
There are believed to be more than 500 detainees at the prison in Guantanamo Bay. Most of them were captured in Afghanistan and are thought to have information about Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Some have been held for more than three years without being charged.
U.S. soldier uses Quran for target practice; military apologizes
May 17, 2008
A soldier used the Quran — Islam’s holy book — for target practice, forcing the chief U.S. commander in Baghdad to issue a formal apology on Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, flanked by leaders from Radhwaniya in the western outskirts of Baghdad, apologized for the staff sergeant who was a sniper section leader assigned to the headquarters of the 64th Armored Regiment. He also read a letter of apology by the shooter.
It was the first time the incident — which tested the relationship between U.S.-backed Sunni militiamen and the military — was made public since it was discovered May 11.
“I come before you here seeking your forgiveness,” Hammond said to tribal leaders and others at the apology ceremony. “In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.”
Another military official kissed a Quran and presented it as “a humble gift” to the tribal leaders.
The soldier, whose name was not released, shot at a Quran on May 9, villagers said. The Quran used in the incident was discovered two days later, according to the military.
Hammond also read from the shooter’s letter: “I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together. … My actions were shortsighted, very reckless and irresponsible, but in my heart [the actions] were not malicious.”
A tribal leader said “the criminal act by U.S. forces” took place at a shooting range at the Radhwaniya police station. After the shooters left, an Iraqi policeman found a target marked in the middle of the bullet-riddled Quran.
Copies of the pictures of the Quran obtained by CNN show multiple bullet holes and an expletive scrawled on one of its pages.
A military investigation found the shooter guilty and relieved him of duty; he will be redeployed to the United States for reassignment away from the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, a U.S. official said.
“The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior,” Hammond said. “I’ve come to this land to protect you, to support you — not to harm you — and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable.”
Officials said the soldier claimed he wasn’t aware the book was the Quran. U.S. officials rejected the claim.
Tribal leaders, dignitaries and local security officials attended the ceremony, while residents carried banners and chanted slogans, including “Yes, yes to the Quran” and “America out, out.”
Sheikh Hamadi al-Qirtani, in a speech on behalf of all tribal sheiks of Radhwaniya, called the incident “aggression against the entire Islamic world.”
The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq also condemned the shooter’s actions and the U.S. military’s belated acknowledgment of the incident.
“As the Association of Muslim Scholars condemns this heinous crime against God’s holy book, the Constitution of this nation, a source of pride and dignity,” the groups statement said, “they condemned the silence by all those who are part of the occupation’s agenda and holds the occupation and the current government fully responsible for this violation and reminds everyone that God preserves his book and he [God] is a great avenger.”
Obama forced to apologise to Karzai for Koran burnings in Afghanistan
US President Barack Obama has been forced to apologise over the burning of Korans at a US airbase in Afghanistan, where three days of protests have killed 14 people, including two American soldiers.
Violent anti-US protests have seen furious Afghans attack French, Norwegian and US bases, shouting “death to America” after the Taliban exhorted their countrymen to kill foreign troops to avenge the incident at a US-run base.
Afghanistan is a deeply religious country where slights against Islam have frequently provoked violent protests, and many Afghans are incensed at the discovery of charred Korans at Bagram airbase north of Kabul.
In a letter of apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mr Obama expressed “deep regret” over the incident that he said was unintentional, and pledged that those responsible would be held accountable, Kabul said.
“I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies,” Mr Obama wrote in the letter presented to Mr Karzai by US ambassador Ryan Crocker.
“The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”White House spokesman Jay Carney said the apology, which came in a broader three-page letter to Mr Karzai, was “wholly appropriate given the sensitivities” over the issue.
“His primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there,” Mr Carney said.
Mr Karzai said a US officer was responsible – “out of ignorance” – for the Koran burning at Bagram and the US government had admitted the mistake, his office said.
The two Americans were shot dead when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on them at their base in Khogyani in eastern Nangarhar province, district governor Mohammad Hassan told AFP.
NATO’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said two of its service members were killed in the east but did not give their nationalities.
At least three Afghans were also killed by gunfire at demonstrations in the south and east of the country, bringing the total death toll among protesters to 12 since Wednesday.
The US embassy warned of possibly violent protests on Friday in which Westerners could be targeted.
The “emergency message” urged Americans in Afghanistan to “shelter in place and avoid any unnecessary movement”, with at least one demonstration reportedly planned for Kabul and more possible after Friday prayers.
The violence came after the Taliban urged Afghans to kill foreign troops to avenge the Koran burning, although the insurgents stopped short of cutting off tentative peace contacts with US officials in Qatar.
In Mihtarlam, the capital of Laghman province east of Kabul, thousands besieged the base of a US-led military-civilian provincial reconstruction team (PRT), throwing rocks and climbing up the outer walls, police said.
“People had come from all over Laghman. They attacked the PRT, they climbed up the walls, they set fire to something there, I think a container,” police official Khalilul Rahman Niazi told AFP.
Mr Niazi said he believed two people were wounded by gunfire from the base as they stormed the walls and hurled rocks under a pall of thick black smoke.
About 2,000 protesters also tried to march on the French base in Kapisa, east of Kabul, but were pushed back by Afghan security forces, regional police chief General Abdul Hameed Erken told AFP.
“Two protestors were slightly wounded after security forces opened fire on them,” he said.
Mr Karzai had called for calm pending a full investigation, and ordered his own security forces to avoid violence and protect people’s lives and property.
But the Taliban, leading a 10-year insurgency against Karzai’s government, on Thursday sought to exploit the anti-American sentiment.
“You should bring the invading forces’ military bases under your brave attack, their military convoys, kill them, capture them, beat them and teach them a lesson that they will never again dare to insult the Holy Koran,” it said in a statement.
The Islamist movement was toppled in the 2001 US-led invasion. NATO has some 130,000 troops, mainly Americans, supporting the Karzai government.
US officials speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP the military removed Korans from a prison at Bagram because inmates were suspected of using the holy book to pass messages to each other.