Why US Soldier Shot at Quran & How the Incident Was Perceived

May 23rd, 2008 - by admin

Abdus Sattar Ghazali / Op Ed News & Tashfeen Mahmud / Op Ed News – 2008-05-23 22:33:56


Why US Soldier Shot at Quran
Abdus Sattar Ghazali / Op Ed News

(May 21, 2008) — The US army has confirmed that a US sergeant used the Quran for target practice in Baghdad.

The soldier, whose name was not released, shot at a copy of the Quran on May 9. The bullet-riddled book was discovered two days later by an Iraqi policeman, but the US military did not make the incident public until May 17.

Major General Jeffery Hammond, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, apologized to local officials in Radhwaniya in the western outskirts of Baghdad, and read a carefully worded apology from the shooter.

It cannot be hushed as an individual or isolated incident but it may be explained as an accumulated effect of the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim policies of the Bush administration in the post-911 America. The state-sponsored smirking has trickled down to spawn a climate of recreational cruelty in the US military.

Recall Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin who, while in uniform, propagated hate at the grassroots level in dozens of speeches to church groups, saying that the war on terror was actually spiritual warfare, with the enemy ‘Satan’ being embodied by Islam. Speaking of God versus Allah he said: “Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol.”

Dropping down the chain of command, Marine Corp Lt. Gen. James Mattis said it was “fun to shoot some people.” His comment came in reference to fighting insurgents in Iraq where he commanded Marines during the battle for Fallujah in spring 2004. “Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot,” Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience.

Don’t forget the desecration of the Quran in Guantanamo Bay where the holy book of Islam was flushed into toilets by US interrogators. Copies of the Koran were trampled on by soldiers. Prisoners were forced to watch copies of the Koran being flushed down toilets.

Not in distant past, US Air Force Academy invites Islamophobes to indoctrinate young cadets against Islam. Three Isalmaophobes – Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani -were star speakers on February 5, 2008 at the 50th annual United States Air Force Academy political forum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They spewed venom against Islam and Muslims to poison the mind of young cadets.

And in the latest episode of anti-Islam propaganda this month, a mock attack is launched against a fake mosque in Irving, Illinois in a security drill.

Tellingly, US army attacks on mosques and desecration of mosques in Iraq are not uncommon. What message this gives to the soldiers serving in Iraq? Consequently, they have no sense of sanctity for the symbols of Islam.

No doubt, the unnamed sergeant’s action emanates from such unabated and persistent anti-Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda, desecration of the Quran and attacks on mosques. His apology does not mean much because he is not alone responsible for the desecration of the Quran but it is the army as an institution that is responsible for such acts.

Hence, Major General Jeffery Hammond’s apology is not convincing. It may calm down the anger of the protesting Iraqi people for the time being but it will not help in preventing the deepening of anti-American feeling among Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere.

Khalid Saeed, American Muslim Voice President, is right when he says that “unless the official US policy to demean Islam and Muslims is not changed and attacks on Islamic faith in the name of freedom of expression are not abandoned we will see more such incidents in which the Quran and Mosques will be used as targets.”

Regretfully, the 2008 presidential race has also seen deep signs of Islamophobia as many Republican presidential candidates, before Senator John McCain’s victory in primaries, resorted to Islamophobic fear mongering by demonizing Muslims and Islam. Alarmingly McCain also refuses to drop “Islamic terror” label and describes a hate preaching televangelist, Pastor Rod Parsley, as his “spiritual guide.”

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 American. Currently working as freelance journalist. Executive Editor of American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com

The Quran Incident in Iraq and Its Reception
Tashfeen Mahmud / Op Ed News

(May 19, 2008) — The US military has apologized for the actions of a soldier who used the Quran for target practice.
It’s all over the news right now. Most news sites are using the CNN report above, or the AP report.

The incident happened on May 9, and was reportedly discovered two days later. CNN was the first to report, and broadcasted a ceremony where the top US military official in Iraq apologized to tribal leaders on Saturday:

“I come before you here seeking your forgiveness. In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers. […] The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior. 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.”

True. He also read out the soldier’s apology:
“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.”

Depending on, that is, how “malicious” is defined these days — and by whom.

Check out these sites and forums that are reaping the bandwidth of such crises:

PhillyBlog (“Who gives a shit?”, “A book is an object… If you aren’t a Muslim, the book isn’t sacred”)

Godlike Productions (“I [use] pages from it to wipe my ass after I pinch a loaf…”, to which one forum member responded “The internet is [flooded] by this sort of comments… if i was a muslim, i would feal threatened, and start to believe the extremists are right about us”)


ABC News (“they should NEVER give in to the muslim pigs, burn the stupid book, shoot it, let the dogs eat it”, “A religion that worships paper is goofy. That’s all it is, paper. If you don’t hold the meaning of your religion in your heart and not in material things, your religion is in trouble”) and

JazzCorner (“He may have found the only way for a grunt to get out of Iraq…”). __Comments seem to be from all across the spectrum, but most respondents seemed to be — amazingly — approving of the incident. I’m damn sure Glenn Beck will have a great time, too.

The situation in Radhwaniya, Baghdad however, is intense. Residents carried banners and cried slogans, calling on America to get out of Iraq. Not surprisingly, a local sheikh termed the incident an “aggression against the entire Muslim world”.

Tribal leaders, dignitaries and security officials were reportedly at the apology ceremony, where a US military official kissed a Quran and presented it as a “humble gift” to the tribal leaders. The soldier who carried out the misconduct has been relieved from his duties and is set to be deported back to the US.

Incidentally, the CNN and AP reports have some discrepancies

1. CNN: the bullet-ridden Quran had “multiple bullet holes and an expletive scrawled on one of its pages”; AP: had “14 bullet holes” and “graffiti inside the cover”. From my understanding, there’s a difference between “expletive” and “graffiti”. Images of the Quran have not been — and most possibly will not be — released.

2. CNN: “Officials said the soldier claimed he wasn’t aware the book was the Quran. US officials rejected the claim.” Since it was rejected by US officials, who were the officials who claimed the sniper wasn’t aware it was the Quran?
Why would anybody desecrate a holy book — any holy book? What intent — other than a malicious one — would incite a person to hurt someone precisely where it will cause enormous grief?

The Quran incident will no doubt worsen the situation in Iraq, where apart from other casualties, five children were killed on Saturday when a mortar slammed into their neighborhood.

They had been playing.

A US soldier died on Sunday, when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle, north of Baghdad.

I wonder how the parents of all these people who have died in this war — the kids, the marines — are coping with their realities. Of course we don’t want to imagine what they’re going through — it’s way too much stress, who wants that when we have Lindsay Lohan so screwed up and anyway we always say f**k Bush and so on.

Maybe that’s why we have wars.

Authors Website: http://techqi.blogspot.com

Authors Bio: I’ve worked for different newspapers for roughly half my life now, but currently I’m on a break from my job and enrolled as a grad student at UBC.