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The Quran incident and its reception

[This article was published in OpEdNews.] 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") Topix ("I THINK THIS IS HILARIOUS! MUDSLIMES BEHEAD PEOPLE,MURDER CHILDREN AND OLD FOLKS AND WE GET OUR PANTIES IN A BUNCH BECAUSE A SOLDIER SHOOTS A PAGAN BOOK! WE NEED TO NUKE IRAQ AND GET OUT. WE SPEND BILLIONS ON THE WAR IN ANOTHER COUNTRY WHILE OUR ECONOMY IS IN SHAMBLES" -- all caps it was) 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. U.S. 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 fuck Bush and so on. Maybe that's why we have wars.

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