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The Quran incident in Iraq and its reception

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Message Tashfeen Mahmud
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The US military has apologized for the actions of a soldier who used the Quran for target practice.

It's all over the news right now. Most news sites are using the CNN report above, or the AP report. The incident happened on May 9, and was reportedly discovered two days later. CNN was the first to report, and broadcasted a ceremony where the top US military official in Iraq apologized to tribal leaders on Saturday:

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness. In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers. [...] The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior. I've come to this land to protect you, to support you - not to harm you - and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable."

True. He also read out the soldier's apology:

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"I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together. ... My actions were shortsighted, very reckless and irresponsible, but in my heart [the actions] were not malicious."

Depending on, that is, how "malicious" is defined these days -- and by whom. Check out these sites and forums that are reaping the bandwidth of such crises:

PhillyBlog ("Who gives a sh*t?", "A book is an object... If you aren't a Muslim, the book isn't sacred")

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Godlike Productions ("I [use] pages from it to wipe my ass after I pinch a loaf...", to which one forum member responded "The internet is [flooded] by this sort of comments... if i was a muslim, i would feal threatened, and start to believe the extremists are right about us")

Topix ("I THINK THIS IS HILARIOUS! MUDSLIMES BEHEAD PEOPLE,MURDER CHILDREN AND OLD FOLKS AND WE GET OUR PANTIES IN A BUNCH BECAUSE A SOLDIER SHOOTS A PAGAN BOOK! WE NEED TO NUKE IRAQ AND GET OUT. WE SPEND BILLIONS ON THE WAR IN ANOTHER COUNTRY WHILE OUR ECONOMY IS IN SHAMBLES" -- all caps it was)

ABC news ("they should NEVER give in to the muslim pigs, burn the stupid book, shoot it, let the dogs eat it", "A religion that worships paper is goofy. That's all it is, paper. If you don't hold the meaning of your religion in your heart and not in material things, your religion is in trouble")

and JazzCorner ("He may have found the only way for a grunt to get out of Iraq...").

Comments seem to be from all across the spectrum, but most respondents seemed to be -- amazingly -- approving of the incident. I'm damn sure Glenn Beck will have a great time, too.

The situation in Radhwaniya, Baghdad however, is intense. Residents carried banners and cried slogans, calling on America to get out of Iraq. Not surprisingly, a local sheikh termed the incident an "aggression against the entire Muslim world".

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Tribal leaders, dignitaries and security officials were reportedly at the apology ceremony, where a US military official kissed a Quran and presented it as a "humble gift" to the tribal leaders. The soldier who carried out the misconduct has been relieved from his duties and is set to be deported back to the US.

Incidentally, the CNN and AP reports have some discrepancies --

1. CNN: the bullet-ridden Quran had "multiple bullet holes and an expletive scrawled on one of its pages"; AP: had "14 bullet holes" and "graffiti inside the cover". From my understanding, there's a difference between "expletive" and "graffiti". Images of the Quran have not been -- and most possibly will not be -- released.

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I've worked for different newspapers for roughly half my life now, but currently I'm on a break from my job and enrolled as a grad student at UBC.
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The Quran incident in Iraq and its reception