Feature

Koran desecration signals contempt

We wish we were surprised, but the burning of the Holy Koran by American soldiers at Bagram Air Base is hardly out of character.

We wish we were surprised at this “heinous and unforgivable” act, said the Kabul Hewad in an editorial. But the burning of the Holy Koran by American soldiers at Bagram Air Base is hardly out of character. Despite being here under a U.N. mandate to protect and help Afghans, U.S. troops have “repeatedly trampled” on us and our values. “Not only have they attacked Afghan people’s houses, killing defenseless citizens, women, and children, torturing and imprisoning them,” but they have also violated sacred Islamic religious values. These actions play into the hands of the Taliban and our other “historic enemies.” Already, riots and demonstrations across the country have claimed the lives of dozens of Afghans, and even of some Americans. The only thing that can appease Afghan tempers now is for the perpetrators of the Koran burning to be identified and prosecuted.

The desecration of the holy book is part of an even larger pattern, said Manal Abdul Aziz in the Cairo Egyptian Gazette. Ever since 9/11, the West as a whole has failed to distinguish between al Qaida militants and the peaceful Muslim world. It “has held Islamic ideology accountable for the crimes committed by these terrorists.” All over Europe, countries once known for tolerance have passed laws forbidding Muslims to wear religious garb or build minarets on mosques. European newspapers have published blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and American guards at Guantánamo flushed the Holy Koran down a toilet. We thought all that would change when Barack Obama took office, “not because of Obama’s Muslim roots, but because of his apparent respect for Islam and Muslims, which he has continued to show since taking office.” That such acts still occur is deeply disappointing.

There’s simply no excuse for these soldiers’ “profound ignorance” of Islamic culture, said the Dubai Gulf News. The U.S. military has been training and fighting alongside Afghan troops for 10 years. Yet still they disrespect the culture. The apologies now pouring forth—from President Obama, from the secretary of defense, and even from the commanding general in Afghanistan—mean nothing. “The same apologies were heard after every slaughter of civilians by drone attacks,” and were then followed by more massacres and more apologies. The foreign force has now “lost any legitimacy it might have had at the start, and needs to leave Afghanistan.”

Not so fast, said the Kabul Arman-e Melli. The Americans already caused an uproar in this country with their insulting mistake. The last thing we need now is for them to “leave us in the lurch.” Following the killing of two American officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry, NATO and the British Embassy in Kabul have told all foreign advisers to abandon their work with the Afghan government. Such “hasty action will cripple our country’s security agencies.” Whatever they do, our international allies should not overreact to the current challenges and “leave the battlefield open for the terrorists and enemies of the people of Afghanistan.”

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