Abuses can't be regarded as acceptable
Published: Friday, June 17th, 2005
Just suppose you were on Route 66 Boulevard and came upon a man systematically destroying Bibles. Maybe he’d be burning them, one by one. Or tearing them to pieces with his hands. Or maybe he’d just put them on the ground and spit on them. You’d be outraged, wouldn’t you? While the man would certainly be within his First Amendment rights to express himself, wouldn’t you be disgusted at him? Wouldn’t you want the guy arrested? Remember, there’s a huge amount of support for a law to ban flag-burning, and Bible desecration is surely regarded as even more outrageous. Most Americans regard the Bible as a sacred symbol. Even non-Christian Americans show respect for it, mostly out of respect for their Christian friends. To Muslims, the Koran is equally holy — and held in even more respect than Christians regard the Bible. But this is how the Koran has been treated at the Guantanamo Bay prison: • A soldier deliberately kicked a copy of the book. • An interrogator stepped on a copy of the Koran, and was later fired for “a pattern of unacceptable behavior,” according to The Associated Press. • A prison guard’s urine accidentally came through an air vent and splashed on a prisoner and his copy of the Koran. • Water balloons thrown by guards damaged an unknown number of copies of the book. • Someone wrote a two-word obscenity in a prisoner’s copy of the Koran. These incidents are part of a report issued earlier this month by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the prison in Cuba. And what did Gen. Hood conclude? He said his investigation “revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Koran dating back almost 2 1/2 years.” Respect for the Koran should be part of every guard’s indoctrination at Guantanamo Bay. We’d expect no less respect shown for the Bible, if the situation were reversed. Yet these abuses were allowed to happen. Gen. Hood regards them as acceptable. And if urine accidentally splashed on a prisoner and his copy of the Koran, what does that say about the conditions at the prison? Aren’t we supposed to be the good guys in this war?
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