by Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Editor-in-chief of The Muslim Observer
One general apologized to the people of Iraq for the action of a sniper who used a copy of Qur`an as a shooting target. The apology was accepted by the leaders of the Iraqi district where this incident occurred.
Desecration of Muslim religious items is nothing new in the Pentagon; indeed there has been a long pattern of actions against the Qur`an.
At the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, urine was spattered on the Qur`an and a copy is alleged to have been flushed down a toilet. In another incident, interrogators stood on the Qur`an during interrogation. Doubtless countless other abuses have occurred.
The disturbing pattern clearly indicates that the US army has many in its staff who view Islam as the enemy of their own religion of Christianity. It is no surprise that many soldiers and political officials espouse or follow evangelical and all-too-frequently radical anti-Muslim beliefs.
Obviously, many in the US army see themselves as crusaders rather than as soldiers of an army representing the interests of a multiethnic constituency that includes Muslims. In fact, these abuses against the Qur`an are against the constitution and against the values our country stands for.
It is important that the commander in Chief of the US army apologize to the Muslim world as well as to Muslim Americans for this behavior on the part of some US soldiers. As Muslim Americans, we also apologize to the Muslim world for this action on the part of our army soldiers. We should have done more to educate various branches of our government about Islam and Muslims. As Muslims we realize the nature of hurt and pain the entire Muslim world feels at these sorts of actions.
However, our apology is not enough, unless our commander in chief assures the world that the US army or any of its branches or recruits will not be used to promote hatred against any religion or people.
Flushing the Qur`an in the toilet or using it as a shooting target would not diminish the value of the Qur`an in the minds of billions of those who believe it is Divine words revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s) for the benefit of humanity.
However, these incidents show a measure of hatred for Islam that is inimical to the stated interests of winning hearts and minds among Arabs, South Asians, and of all Muslims.
As Muslim Americans, we must ensure that our civil institutions do not get entrapped in this malice of hatred of a few representatives of radical special interest groups more beholden to their own reactionary xenophobia than to an honest cool consideration of issues and the truth.