This seems to happen on fairly regular basis now. (From a year earlier in Feb 2011) A copy of the Koran, the book of Islam, is mistreated some how and the US Government grovels around with over the top apologies. Investigations are started in the hopes that another angry Arab mob will be pacified. But they never are.
I’ve got some thoughts about that. Of course you knew I would. But before I go there, here are some excerpts from the latest international incident. First there is this from the BBC
Afghan officials told the BBC that the Americans had confiscated books and other documents from suspected Taliban prisoners at the Parwan detention centre next to Bagram base because they believed they were using them to send messages to each other.
Gen John R Allen: ‘When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them.It is thought that documents containing extremist inscriptions were taken from the library, says the BBC’s Andrew North in Kabul. An unknown quantity of these materials were then burnt, according to military officials, among them copies of the Koran.
So it appears that some prisoners were using books, documents and copies of the Koran to communicate with each other via “extremist inscriptions.”
Afghan security forces have been put on alert nationwide amid fears of a repeat of the bloodshed that followed news of a Koran being burnt last year in the US.
The reaction lead to this. From Reuters.
U.S. helicopters fired flares to disperse hundreds of angry Afghans who massed outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday after hearing staff there had burned copies of the Koran.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued an apology for “inappropriate treatment” of Islam’s holy book at the base to try to contain fury over the incident – a public relations disaster for Washington as it tries to pacify the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014.
Some more from the same story.
In a statement issued by the Pentagon, Panetta said NATO had ordered an investigation into the “deeply unfortunate” incident.
NATO’s top general in Afghanistan, General John Allen, apologized for “actions” at the base and said a new order had been given to all coalition forces in Afghanistan to take part in training in the proper handling of religious materials.
“This was not intentional in any way,” said Allen, the head of Afghanistan’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
“I offer my sincere apologies for any offence this may have caused, to the president of Afghanistan, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan,” he added.
The apologies did little to ease the anger.
“We want them out of our country now,” said Zmari, 30, a protester who has a shop near Bagram.
“We Afghans don’t want these Christians and infidels, they are the enemy of our soil, our honor and our Koran,” said Haji Shirin, one of the protesters at the heavily fortified compound, which is home to 30,000 foreign troops and civilians.
“I urge all Muslims to sacrifice themselves in order to pull out these troops from this soil.”
So, yeah, we have some pretty angry people no doubt. And soon enough something will happen that will create another angry mob and more apologies.
In any case my thoughts come from a story in the Bible. In the book of Judges chapter 6 to be exact. It is the story of Gideon who lived at a time when Israel was under oppression from the Midianties. For seven years the Midianites would wait until harvest time and then come in and destroy crops, kill animals and plunder the farmers houses. For whatever reason many, including Gideon’s father Joash had built alters for Baal worship (Judges 6:1)
Soon Gideon is visited by an angel who tells the timid Gideon that he has been chosen by God to deliver Israel from the Midianites. He further instructs Gideon to go that night and build an alter. The story in Judges 6 transpires like this.
25 That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”
27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! (NIV)
And you thought burning a copy of the Koran was trouble! Can you imagine cutting down the wooden pole representing the goddess and using it for your firewood? In any case it should have been remained a family affair. Son destroys fathers property. It’s not like the first time that has happened.
In any case the reaction is Koran-burning worthy.
29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”
When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
So now we get to my thought on this whole idea of violence in response to desecration of “holy” things.
31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”
I don’t advocate infuriating the masses. Certainly not intentionally. On the other hand, if “Allah really is a god,” shouldn’t he be able to take care of this without the help of an angry mob. However, suggesting as much would only create another mob I suppose.
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