May 17, 2005

Koran Flushing: Newsweek Got It Right

As usual, rather than admit another major error in the "War On Ahem!", the Bush administration has made a knee-jerk lie and blamed Newsweek for misreporting. As usual, the rightwingers are jumping all over Newsweek.

Good on Newsweek for trying to take some of the blame in an effort to calm the violence which is now raging across the Muslim world. But the truth be told, their reporting was not at fault.

For all the rightwing loons who are visiting lately, here's a full reprint of Calgacus's comments at
Contrary to White House spin, the allegations of religious desecration at Guantanamo published by Newsweek on May 9, 2005, are common among ex-prisoners and have been widely reported outside the United States. Several former detainees at the Guantanamo and Bagram prisons have reported instances of their handlers sitting or standing on the Koran, throwing or kicking it in toilets, and urinating on it. Prior to the Newsweek article, the New York Times reported a Guantanamo insider asserting that the commander of the facility was compelled by prisoner protests to address the problem and issue an apology.

One such incident (during which the Koran was allegedly thrown in a pile and stepped on) prompted a hunger strike among Guantanamo detainees in March 2002. Regarding this, the New York Times in a May 1, 2005, article interviewed a former detainee, Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi, who said the protest ended with a senior officer delivering an apology to the entire camp. And the Times reports: "A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." (Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt, "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay," New York Times, May 1, 2005.)

The hunger strike and apology story is also confirmed by another former detainee, Shafiq Rasul, interviewed by the UK Guardian in 2003 (James Meek, "The People the Law Forgot," Dec. 3, 2003). It was also confirmed by former prisoner Jamal al-Harith in an interview with the Daily Mirror (Rosa Prince and Gary Jones, "My Hell in Camp X-Ray," Daily Mirror, March 12, 2004).

The toilet incident was reported in the Washington Post in a 2003 interview with a former detainee from Afghanistan:

"Ehsannullah, 29, said American soldiers who initially questioned him in Kandahar before shipping him to Guantanamo hit him and taunted him by dumping the Koran in a toilet. 'It was a very bad situation for us,' said Ehsannullah, who comes from the home region of the Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar. 'We cried so much and shouted, "Please do not do that to the Holy Koran."' (Marc Kaufman and April Witt, "Out of Legal Limbo, Some Tell of Mistreatment," Washington Post, March 26, 2003.)

Also citing the toilet incident is testimony by Asif Iqbal, a former Guantanamo detainee who was released to British custody in March 2004 and subsequently freed without charge:

"The behavior of the guards towards our religious practices as well as the Koran was also, in my view, designed to cause us as much distress as possible. They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet, and generally disrespect it." (Center for Constitutional Rights [.pdf], Aug. 4, 2004.)

The claim that U.S. troops at Bagram prison in Afghanistan urinated on the Koran was made by former detainee Mohamed Mazouz, a Moroccan, as reported in the Moroccan newspaper, La Gazette du Maroc. (Abdelhak Najib, "Les Américains pissaient sur le Coran et abusaient de nous sexuellement," April 12, 2005.) An English translation is available on the Cage Prisoners site (which describes itself as a "nonsectarian Islamic human rights Web site").

Tarek Derghoul, another of the British detainees, similarly cites instances of Koran desecration in an interview with Cage Prisoners.

Desecration of the Koran was also mentioned by former Guantanamo detainee Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost and reported by the BBC in early May 2005. (Haroon Rashid, "Ex-Inmates Share Guantanamo Ordeal," May 2, 2005.)
PS: Showing characteristic lack of imagination, Tim Blair argues that the story MUST be wrong because it is simply impossible to flush a whole book down a toilet. Of course, even that wasn't an original Tim Blair idea - he got it from fellow nutcase Frank Salvato. So here's how it works, guys. You rip a page out of the holy book, wave it in front of the bloodied interrogation suspect's face, shout something obscene and insulting, then flush it down the loo. Then you take another page, and another... And all the while, you are yourself taking a page out of the book of other famous book-burners like #1 rightwing hero Adolf Hitler.

1 comment:

mrg1981 said...

I have a few points for you to consider:
1. The prisoners at Guatanamo are by and large terrorists that would NEVER disrespect a holy book! No, no, not at all! They simply cut the heads off of people for BELIEVING in a holy book that is different from theirs, then broadcast it across the world to intimidate anyone who does not believe in their holy book!
2. When a drug dealer or thief is released from prison and claims that the prison guards mis-treated them you should take it with a grain of salt...these are dishonest people complaining about conditions that they brought upon themselves. So, next time a terrorist complains about his treatment in a military prison, I'll weigh that against his personal character...I think the scale will tip rather rapidly.
3. Many of the sources you quote are suspect.
4. If all of these terrorists carried a Koran with them and claimed that it was the reason for their gruesome, unbelievable, and unimagineable acts, I can easily see how a soldier might start to believe that the book had something to do with it. This does not excuse their actions, nor do I believe that the Koran is responsible for their actions. However, if all of the terrorists claim that the book says to do these things, it is understandable that they would come to hate the book due to the terrorists actions.


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