February 23, 2012

Premature Prostration

President Barack Obama has already apologized for the burning of Qurans by NATO troops, calling the act an inadvertent error (see below). 

Was it intentional or accidental? Was it an innocent mistake, or, as rumors have it, were these Qurans confiscated from Taliban/Afghan prisoners at Bagram air base after being used for illicit communications between prisoners (i.e., prisoners wrote messages inside the books)? The incident is currently under investigation, so we just don't know yet.  

But here’s something we do know. We know that in the Muslim world, religious sensitivities/sensibilities are a ONE-SIDED thing. The desecration of others’ holy books, houses of worship and sacred treasures is common practice in the Muslim world, and has been for centuries (e.g., burning Bibles; desecrating Jewish/ Christian cemeteries and using tombstones to build latrines; razing or destroying churches and synagogues, etc. etc. etc.).  We also know it’s okay to deny the Holocaust; recycle Nazi-era anti-Semitic garbage; and call Christians and Jews "apes & pigs;” BUT draw a (mild) political cartoon of Mohammed, write a book or make a film about Islam, and you’re dead (literally).

We don’t condone deliberate acts of intolerance, but we don’t condone murder either. Nor do we accept a double standard that calls for hypersensitivity towards Muslims and Islam, but excuses those who assault, behead or kill Christians, Jews or anyone else, in the name of Islam.

Rather than prematurely prostrating himself (on our behalf?!), our Apologizer-in-Chief would do well to use this as one of those ‘teachable moments’ he so loves, and remind the perpetually-offended that tolerance is a TWO-WAY street. 

CNN  |  February 23, 2012

Obama Apologizes to Afghanistan for Quran Burning

By Masoud Popalzai & Nick Paton Walsh

Afghanistan-Koran burning riots #1d.jpg
Afghans protest at Bagram Koran flashpoint.  Photo courtesy:

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan rage over the burning of Qurans by NATO troops showed little signs of subsiding Thursday even after a President Barak Obama apologized for the "error."

In a letter delivered to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama called the act "inadvertent," Karzai's office and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday.

"We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, including holding accountable those responsible," Obama said in the letter delivered by Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan erupted in violent demonstrations since the troops' burning of the Islamic religious material at the beginning of the week. Many feared further unrest Friday, the Islamic holy day.

Two American troops were killed Thursday by a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform, a U.S. official said, asking not to be named discussing casualties.

The gunman is thought to have been acting in conjunction with a protest taking place outside the base, the official said.

The protest and shootings came as the Taliban called on Muslims to attack NATO military bases and convoys and kill soldiers following the admission that NATO troops had incinerated the religious material at Bagram Airfield.

Afghan officials investigating urged Afghans to "exercise self-restraint" and "avoid resorting to protests and demonstrations that may provide ground for the enemy to take advantage of the situation."

The investigators called the burning of religious material "insulting and shameful," saying NATO officials had promised to bring the "perpetrators of the crime ... to justice as soon as possible."

Muslims believe the Quran is the word of God, so holy that people should wash their hands before even touching the sacred book. Desecrating the Quran is seen as an affront -- an act of intolerance and bigotry.

At least two demonstrators also were killed in the exchange of gunfire near the base where the two Americans died, said Haji Mohammad Hassan, chief of Khugyani district in eastern Nangarhar province.

Two U.S. soldiers and seven demonstrators were injured in the clash, too, he said.... more here


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