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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Muslims protest against U.S. Qur’an abuse

5/27/2005 11:00:00 PM GMT

Carrying copies of the Qur’an and shouting anti-U.S. slogans, thousands of angry protestors across the Muslim world rallied against the desecration of their holy book by U.S. guards at Guantanamo Bay, demanding the United States to apologize and punish those involved.
Protestors in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and Malaysia also demanded their leaders to stop the “humiliation” and boycott the United States in retaliation for the abuse of the holy Qur’an at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba.
The rallies came after the U.S. army confirmed that some of its guards desecrated the Muslims holy book, but said that it found “no evidence” that the Qur’an was flushed in a toilet.
The Newsweek magazine reported the toilet allegation earlier this month, but later retracted it.
Many protestors believe the magazine retracted the report under pressure from the U.S. administration.
Massive rallies
About 12,000 people rallied in the Egyptian capital Cairo and in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday. The demonstrators called upon the government and the grand imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi, to demand an official apology from the U.S.
Many others rallied in Sudan outside the U.S. Embassy in the capital. They distributed a statement asking UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is now in Khartoum, to take serious action against the abuse of the Qur’an.
In Jordan, about 1,500 protestors rallied after Friday prayers in Amman, carrying copies of the Qur’an and denouncing U.S. policies.
In Lebanon, sit-in protests were held across the country. Palestinians also staged protests in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon.
In Malaysia, thousands of people rallied outside the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Many Muslim protestors also rallied in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Qur’an “mishandling”
On Thursday, the U.S. army substantiated five incidents in which military guards and interrogators "mishandled" the holy Qur’an at Guantanamo.
Brig Gen Jay Hood, who commands the prison camp, said that he found that U.S. guards at Guantanamo mishandled the Qur’an on five separate occasions since late 2001. Four cases involved guards and one was by an interrogator, he said.
In three of the five incidents, the mishandling appears to have been deliberate, Hood said, claiming that the desecration of the Qur’an was accidental in the other two cases.
However, Hood said that those involved had not violated the regulations they were working to at the time. "None of these five incidents was a result of a failure to follow standard operating procedures in place at the time the incident occurred," he said.


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