Why US soldier shot at Quran for practice? - by Abdus Sattar Ghazali

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The US army has confirmed that a US sergeant used the Quran for target practice in Baghdad.

The soldier, whose name was not released, shot at a copy of the Quran on May 9. The bullet-riddled book was discovered two days later by an Iraqi policeman, but the U.S. military did not make the incident public until May 17.

Major General Jeffery Hammond, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, apologized to local officials in Radhwaniya in the western outskirts of Baghdad, and read a carefully worded apology from the shooter.

It cannot be hushed as an individual or isolated incident but it may be explained as an accumulated effect of the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim policies of the Bush administration in the post-911 America. The state-sponsored smirking has trickled down to spawn a climate of recreational cruelty in the US military.

Recall Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin who, while in uniform, propagated hate at the grassroots level in dozens of speeches to church groups, saying that the war on terror was actually spiritual warfare, with the enemy 'Satan' being embodied by Islam. Speaking of God versus Allah he said: "Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol."

Dropping down the chain of command, Marine Corp Lt. Gen. James Mattis said it was "fun to shoot some people." His comment came in reference to fighting insurgents in Iraq where he commanded Marines during the battle for Fallujah in spring 2004.  
"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience.

Don’t forget the desecration of the Quran in Guantanamo Bay where the holy book of Islam was flushed into toilets by US interrogators. Copies of the Koran were trampled on by soldiers. Prisoners were forced to watch copies of the Koran being flushed down toilets.

Not in distant past, US Air Force Academy invites Islamophobes to indoctrinate young cadets against Islam.  Three Isalmaophobes – Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani -were star speakers on February 5, 2008 at the 50th annual United States Air Force Academy political forum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They spewed venom against Islam and Muslims to poison the mind of young cadets.

And in the latest episode of anti-Islam propaganda this month, a mock attack is launched against a fake mosque in Irving, Illinois in a security drill.

Tellingly, US army attacks on mosques and desecration of mosques in Iraq are not uncommon. What message this gives to the soldiers serving in Iraq? Consequently, they have no sense of sanctity for the symbols of Islam.

No doubt, the unnamed sergeant’s action emanates from such unabated and persistent anti-Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda, desecration of the Quran and attacks on mosques.  His apology does not mean much because he is not alone responsible for the desecration of the Quran but it is the army as an institution that is responsible for such acts.

Hence, Major General Jeffery Hammond’s apology is not convincing. It may calm down the anger of the protesting Iraqi people for the time being but it will not help in preventing the deepening of anti-American feeling among Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere. 

Khalid Saeed, American Muslim Voice President, is right when he says that “unless the official US policy to demean Islam and Muslims is not changed and attacks on Islamic faith in the name of freedom of expression are not abandoned we will see more such incidents in which the Quran and Mosques will be used as targets.”

Similarly, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, while commending the U.S. military’s swift investigation and the apology by commanders in Iraq pointed out: “Because the actions of our men and women in uniform reflect on the U.S. government and people, such incidents contribute to damaging America's image around the world.”

Regretfully, the 2008 presidential race has also seen deep signs of Islamophobia as many Republican presidential candidates, before Senator John McCain’s victory in primaries, resorted to Islamophobic fear mongering by demonizing Muslims and Islam.  
Alarmingly McCain also refuses to drop “Islamic terror” label and describes a hate preaching televangelist, Pastor Rod Parsley, as his "spiritual guide."  

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com  e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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