The reported desecration of the Quran by US guards at the infamous Guantanamo prison, as originally reported by Newsweek on May 9, 2005, was not - as it should've been - an opportunity for a thorough examination of US army practices, and thus human rights abuses, toward Muslim inmates in the numerous detention camps erected throughout the world.
Considering that such practices are quite consistent with the overriding policy adopted by the Bush administration throughout the Middle East, one hardly crosses the border of reason when one expects key newspapers to contextualize the reported flushing of the Quran down the toilet episode with analogous practices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But as experience has shown, that's just too much to expect. Instead, the focus of the vast news coverage and commentary throughout the media was fixed on the less urgent matter of journalistic responsibility on behalf of Newsweek and the seemingly inherent problem of Muslim backwardness and sadism.
The Times of London made a clever choice when it selected a Muslim, Irshad Manji,
to address the fierce response to the scandal.
In an article entitled, "Why don't we Muslims grow up?" Manji, who seems demonstrably disengaged, found it most appropriate to prompt a discussion in semantics, questioning the wholesomeness and sanctity of the Quran itself. The Quran, according to the writer, "contains ambiguities, inconsistencies, outright contradictions and the possibility of human editing."
What does this have to do with anything?
The article, also published by the celebrated New York Review of Books, insisted on pinning the blame on the popular and sometimes violent Muslim response to the report, rather than the culminating feelings of anti-imperialist oppression experienced by the poorest of Muslim nations, most notably Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, chose to push the limits of cultural insensitivity to downright insult in his piece entitled, "Why Islam is disrespected."
Opening his article with imaginary scenarios of Christians, Jews and Buddhists violently rioting in response to the desecration of their religious symbols, Jacoby aims to catch his unsuspecting audience off guard, weaving together a fantastic anecdote and then pronouncing that these stories "never occurred." They were simply convoluted analogies aimed at enlightening his innocent and nave readers, to draw a comparison between the barbarism of Muslims and the nonviolent and civilized everyone else.
"Christians, Jews and Buddhists don't lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don't call for holy war and riot in the street. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain," and so forth.
Other commentators who refrained from scrutinizing and 'exposing' Islam's theological limitations or discrediting its cultural practices, rituals, beliefs and so on, confined their arguments to Newsweek's judgment, or lack thereof, regarding the running the May 9th article.
Some sided with the White House interpretation, as uttered by Press Secretary Scott McClellan, in his call on Newsweek and other media not to lose their "credibility." Others questioned McClellan's own credibility. The agreement however, regarding Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker's clearly forced apology and subsequent retraction of the article was across-the-board.
It's ironic that Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in fact the one speaking the unexamined words of truth. He said that Army Gen. Carl Eichenberry, the senior US commander in Afghanistan, reported that the violence "was not at all tied to the article in the magazine."
So to what could it possibly be tied?
Did it dawn on anyone in the mainstream media that the Afghani people might possibly be angry over years of American occupation? Perhaps this failed to cross anyone's mind.
Could it possibly be that hundreds of millions of Muslims might've had enough common sense to connect the dots and to establish that the desecration of the Quran is only the latest episode of a consistent US military policy that hasn't only dishonored religious symbols but the sanctity of human life, in fact hundreds of thousands of human lives?
Could the hypothesis be true that Muslims, despite their alleged backwardness, had access to TV news, print media and the Internet and might've accidentally run across hundreds of photos of physically humiliated and sexually abused Iraqi prisoners? Could it be possible that they learned of harrowing testimonies of former prisoners at Guantanamo detailing what numerous human rights groups unhesitatingly described as "war crimes"?
But why confine the argument to over-generalized, rhetorical questions? In its response to the scandal, Human Rights Watch issued a statement on May 19, 2005, confirming that sadly, the Guantanamo episode is the norm. "In detention centers around the world, the United States has been humiliating Muslim prisoners by offending their religious beliefs," according to Reed Brody, a HRW special counsel.
The defilement of religious symbols, like the Quran however, is part of the unfailing US foreign and military policy that has utilized every creative, albeit inhumane option to further its colonial designs throughout the Muslim world for an array of economic and strategic gains.
Thus, if Muslim fury is to be examined appropriately and truthfully, then the desecration of the Quran must be analyzed together with the violent death of "at least" 100,000 Iraqi civilians, the greater majority of them at the hands of the "coalition", according to "the first comprehensive investigation of civilian deaths in Iraq, published in the Lancet," and cited recently by respected Australian journalist John Pilger. Separating both issues is downright irresponsible.
But the interest in appropriateness and truthfulness in the media fades away before the seemingly much more compelling and urgent topic of the theological roots of Muslim violence, and the Muslim and Arab minds' innate deficiency and backwardness.
I am afraid that it will take more than a simple apology or a newspaper retraction to right this collective and perpetual wrong. Much more.
Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Arab-American journalist. A regular columnist in many English and Arabic publications, he is editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com and program producer at Aljazeera Satellite Television.
He is also the editor of the anthology: "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion."
To buy "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion" CLICK HERE
Let think how we can structure ourself specially the image of Iraq,etc.Let us learn how to forgive the past mistake(reconciliation)
Islam was its friend and allie the proof of this friendship can be find in the parade dress of the U.S Marine corp, the Sword they carry was given to them by an Islamic state as a symbol of friendship. The very notion of
democracy came from Islam and now we find our self being accused as an undemocratic state. Only Allah knows the reasons Why.
Here is another news article which tells that what really happened: http://www.detnews.com/2005/nation/0506/04/natio-203475.htm
Well, I submit that they are shocked simply because they themselves hold nothing sacred. They cannot understand our perspective because they do not understand what it means to believe in something holy.
Ensconced within the towers of their secularism they do not comprehend that there is a Higher Power, a Higher Law than that conceived of by man, and this is, of course, Allah Subhana Wa Ta Ala. For us, the deen, the Quran is the direct revelation of Diety, of how Allah wants us to behave and worship. To profane such a thing is unthinkable, for it is a complete disregard not only of Islam, Muslims, but really, of God. And if you can't see why this such a great issue, then I really feel badly for you.
As a Muslim, I am not bothered about the desecration of Muslims and the Holy Qur'an. Not that it does not pain me though. I just have to ovelook it all. Rather, I pitied those people disaffection more than a billion people about their actions.
I believe these guys are doing this out of fear and frustration. Whoever might be their sponsors. Allah is enough to judge the whole mankind.
Muslims and Islam have been subjected to series of humiliation since the inception 1400 years ago. The only way out is for Muslims worldwide to wake up and follow the tenets of Islam. The best example God has given humankind.
Empires have risen and fall. America cannot continue to rule the world forever. This is exactly the words of the Qur'an. It is no joke. An ignorant child plays with fire. Those people desecrating the Quran and Muslims cannot have all the time in the world. Judgement is coming to them one day. Islamic empires has ruled the world for almost eight hundred years. America is just 2 centures old. The greatest scientific discoveries are not more than one hundred years old.
Those people, i do not know whether they even believe in God and through what medium. I am sure they have no regard for their background. They are devoid of moral and personal values. Devil is their father and they are obeying devils works. So, how long will they continue to fight God? Too bad for them. A child who defies the words of his father is going down the drain fast.
Islam is the truth. Truth they say is weak in the face of brutal force backed by hypocrisy. But truth will prevail. Let's wait and see.
transgressions again Muslims, I feel great sadness. This is not a
solution - only a means to perpetuate the hatred.
To those who thoughtfully explain their beliefs without attacking
the beliefs of others - you give me some hope.
Let us hope that the latter group of people prevail.
(a secular humanist, if you haven't already guessed)
Oh, they cheered for 9/11? Maybe it was a pay day for many that were orphaned at the hands of the Israelis and US. For me here in Canada didn't make a difference. If the CN tower would have been blowed to smitherings, yes, it would have gravely affected me. I didn't cheer for it either, rather I felt it as a human tragedy like any other, earthquakes, tzunamis, typhoons, Oaklahoma, name it.
given, but it would be wrong for me to say that I am 'for' those
truths. It saddens me that religious tensions have become so
great. I agree that the US and Christians/Jews have treated
Muslims unfairly for many years. It would appear that the
Muslim world is now playing the same misguided game.
I cannot speak for the Muslim mind-set; I was not brought up in
that culture. As for the JudeoChristian attitude... I think much
of our problem with Muslims is due to misunderstanding. Much
is due to an Western/Judeochristian attitude of "my way or the
highway". Jesus taught tolerance, but sadly we didn't learn it
very well. I understand that no apology will put an end to the
mistrust and hatred. And given the direction that our respective
cultures are heading, I fear the rift will only widen.
Personally, I believe that any religious fundamentalism and all
forms of dogmatic thinking is counter-productive.
Unfortunately, the moderates - even though they represent a
huge majority - don't intervene, and the press (both Arab and
Western) exploits the bad stuff (they sell more papers that way).
This incites certain factions (both East and West) into committing
even more heinous deeds.
We need to stop preaching and teaching hate if we are to ever
come together. We need to realize the basis for the various
belief systems and that all belief systems and religions have at
least some merit and validity (and that none is 'the one').
Unfortunately, the morons that currently occupy Washington DC
don't listen to reason, so there will be no honest attempts to
bring the sides together anytime soon. I suspect the same is
true in many governments and cultures. All I can do is to try to
get my children to understand and accept the beauty of this
world and its people, and hope that they don't get caught in the
Yes, Israel and the US are guilty of many wrongs, but so are most governments in this world, especially in the many Middle-Eastern tyrannies.
My question is why the lack of balance? Gitmo is bad, but so are the many toture chambers in the Middle-East.
Why is the fact that the Palestinian Charter still does not recognize Israel never mentioned in Arabic media?
I agree with most of the comments within this article. It should also be known that Irshad Manji is a Canadian and was once the host of t.v. show entitled "Queer Television," and I do believe is a homosexual herself, although I am not 100% certain of that. She has also written a book entitled "The Trouble with Islam," and although she claims to be working with many youth (in the West and Arab worlds) to help reform Islamic thinking and bring about an educational renaissance, the only theme I have seen from this young lady is a bashing of Islamic principles and ideals. I'm not exaclty sure why she considers herself a Muslim, when she doesn't agree with anything that Islam stands for?
Is something wrong or am I not a true Muslim?
The truth is out there...investigations have concluded that prisoners' copies of the Quran were in fact disrespected at Guantanamo Bay. Here is the news report: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/terror/20050526-1512-guantanamo-quran.html
So it is not some hoax or rumor on which Muslims around the world are reacting to.
The puppets have been providing air bases and oil to the thugs to kill Muslims...
Wahan as explained by the holy prophet(SA) the love of dunya(world) and the dislike of death.
This Wahan is so commond nowin the life of many muslims.Take for example the western educational system is only increasing wahan for us.I know someone may ask how? Assuming you are know in the college, you will definetly need to proceed to a more higher school than that and so gradualy up to your PGD or PHD level.This stages would definetly west themost important part of your life that at the end of the time you would be uneble to defend islam.But ideally,we are expected to respond imediately any one attarked our religion so that our religion would be completely independent.
I guess the greatest tragedy is how some of us take the reports from the US media at their face value.
A media that can't decide if the holy quran was desecrated or not. With white house claiming that the reports are "demonstrably" wrong, as if Guantanamo bay is an open an accessible facility (and the worng-ness is truly demonstratable - what a joke). It is a place that Amnesty International has equated to a Gulag, you figure out the rest. Given such a free hand it is not hard to imagine that, some of these guards can play out the build-up hatered towards muslims; a lot of which is, again, fueled by some of the US media outlets.
And BTW, may not this be construed as love for Taliban, but the production of poppy was completely eradicated in the Taliban led Afghanistan. I was hoping that, this well-known fact will have reached our commentator. I guess the failure of the US led adminstration in eradicating poppy (and espacially compared to the previous regime) was not featured prominently in any of the US media.
With that said, I do think there are some media outlets that don't just print all that is pleasing to see/hear for the majority. I salute all such outlets.
Respect, Patricia is what people demand from others to obseve while in contact with them. Constitutionally, USA respects all religions, popularly, Islam is the one to bash and ridicule whenever given an opportunity. In Canada, religion in general is marginalized and doesn't pose a vital force in politics or public life. However, all religions are respected to the fullest, but they are considered just an attribute that goes with an individual, and not a ditermining factor in his/her identity which remains definitely Canadian.
Right, Patricia, the Jews and the Christians have a special name and place in Islam and Quran, they are called, the People of the Book(meaning Bible). God says in the Quran that they(the honest and truthful ones from them) have nothing to fear, their reward is awaiting them as promised(e.g.,Paradise). That's the reason why a Muslim can marry from the People of the Book. A Muslim wouldn't be allowed to marry the damned.
I agree partially with your last paragraph. What I don't agree with is that it was done by men & women in uniform. A US soldier must respect what his/her country stands for and behave likewise even if they have Lucifer captiv
Susan says,"I feel the rioting is uncalled for" Well, perhaps the loss of Muslim lives is uncalled for, I agree. However I don't agree with either the author and you on,"i agree with the author who states other religions may not have such an angry response" Put other religions to such a test first, in similar circumstances, see what happens and then opine. You might be surprised of the similitude in the patterns of human behaviour.
Susan says,"I think that the Muslims who are using their energy to riot and protest should use some of that energy to protest Muslims killing other Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere" Well Susan, the USA caused the havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Before Us aggressionm in these places Muslims did not blow other Muslims to smitherings at such an alarming rate. Sporadic act of terrorism done by certain fractions existed and exist everywhere with or without an Islamic fringe attached.
You say,"There are ignorant people that may not respect holy books no matter which holy book they are dealing with" We are not talking about ignorant hillbillies doing this on one of their hootanany gatherings. These deeds were performed by men in uniform representing the government of the USA! Can you perceive the difference?
You say,"but more important is the Muslims killing each other with no Muslim country speaking up against the killing but only bashing America" America is responsible for this state of affairs. They brought chaos and disarrangemen
Qur'an states forgiveness is above retribution. Besides, there is
no proof to the Qur;an desicration stories. Whatever hapened to
the "four witness" requirement as stated the Qur"an? The
reports are based on ONE unidentified informant.
As a new Muslim, it is very hard to to convine others why I chose
this faith when the backwards and uneducated Muslims act like
angry school children on a playground (but with guns) everytime
they can find an alleged reason to do so.
As for "occupation" of Afganistan - what about the Taliban? I
have friends who lived under that rule! It was horrible and the
are grateful for what the US did! Same for my Iraqui frinds! Get a
I would never believe the word of a Al-Jazera jounalist - the
network that glorifies the slaughter of innocent people as if they
were sacrificial animals. Dispicable. You and your network are
the reason why peoples across the world have such hatred for
the Muslim faith. May you realize the error of your ways before
Judgment Day. Allah is the only one that can judge - no human
has that ability or power. Allah knows best.
NO RESPECT? I personally know no one who is against Muslims, nor their religion; only against those terrorists who have stolen Islam for their own power-hungry ideas. The terrorists don't want freedom; they want to dominate! They take a sentence here and a sentence there from the Quran to make their points. I know of some ministers and priests who do the same to inflame their parishioners against other religions.
Is there no tolerance? I believe that the Quran does mention tolerance of Jews and Christians because we are all descendants of Abraham and as well, recognizing Jesus Christ as a prophet.
I agree there will always be people who will disrespect other religions, but they are not limited to Christians or Jews or the United States such as the author intimated; there are jerks in every religion and every country. Condemn the act of a specific person ... YES; condemn that person's religion or country ... NO! That is not tolerance as the author seems to claim he is.
Around the same time semi-nacked pictures of Saddam and others was published in some newspapers. Instead of talking about the ethical and legal justification of such act, the US press was vastly engaged in how people hates Saddam and horrible Saddam rule was. Just a question -- does anybody find it funny when US airplanes drop leafleats in Afghanistan and Iraq asking people to throw out the "foreigners" from their countries?
Think you for your very analytical, timely, and appropriate insight of a very vital issue.