Women at Friday prayer, ADAMS Center
Apologies to Afghans Continue in Wake of Recent Burning of Religious Materials
In an effort to stave off continuing violence in Afghanistan provoked by the improper burning of Qur'ans and other religious material by US soldiers at Bagram Airfield Base north of Kabul, a press conference was held in Washington DC's largest Muslim Center in Sterling, Virginia.
These latest apologies were offered after those by NATO, President Obama, USAF General John Allen, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta proved to be useless in deterring the extremist-infiltrated demonstrations spreading all over the beleaguered country, in the grips of war off and on since the Russian invasion thirty years ago.
At ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society) Center, fifth-largest Muslim center in this country, with numerous branches in the DC Metro area, officials from the Pentagon and DoD added their apologies to the others right after Friday prayers, joined by Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the center, and Haris Tarin of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who implored the Afghans to desist from violence, the wrong response to an unfortunate error.
First to speak was Dr. Peter Lavoy, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Security Affairs. He began by reminding all of the years-long cooperation between this country and the Afghans.
The United States is determined to learn from our mistakes and fully investigate the incident, he said. It will never happen again. Lavoy expressed gratitude that Afghan workers had brought the incident to light and promised that Secretary Panetta will personally handle the situation.
Additional steps include, after a complete investigation, finding those responsible for the unwitting sacrilege and holding them accountable, and retraining US military on how to handle Muslim religious materials, said Lavoy.
He thanked Imam Magid and the entire Muslim American community for fostering policies of tolerance and communication and reminded those present of the many Muslim Americans serving in the US military along with adherents to a variety of other religions.
After reiterating his apologies, Lavoy yielded the podium to a Lieutenant Colonel and army chaplain, also a Muslim who has served in this capacity for eighteen years, who asked how the Prophet Muhammad would have responded--in line with the violence being exhibited this week, as misguided adherents allow their emotions to prevail, or would he have seen the event as an opportunity for all to stand shoulder to shoulder to make the world a more peaceful place?
A spark can set a dry forest on fire, but one that is moist and full of life will absorb it effortlessly, the chaplain said. We Muslims must pray to Muhammad to cleanse our hearts and minds in preparation for ascending to a new and higher level.
Among the first words spoken before Friday prayers had been a recollection of how Muhammad, the "Qur'an Walking," had ignored trash thrown at him.
"May God almighty let us be an example for the world," the speaker continued.
More details: US troops found and collected Qur'ans used by former Muslim prisoners who were no longer incarcerated at Bagram. They found sacrilegious notes in the margin and it was decided that these were used as messages between prisoners. They had taken these along with other religious materials to a pit and set them aflame when an Afghan worker ran over and reached into the flames with his bare hands to rescue the sacred literature, defiled though it had been. Highly visible and violent, ongoing reactions followed, spreading from Bagram throughout the entire country; the livid gestures included burning American flags, and several US military members and Afghan civilians have been killed as others, including civilians, were wounded.