(LA Times) U.S. military struggles to teach troops to respect Koran

North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops last week started mandatory refresher training on how to handle the Koran. Troops are now told flatly not to dispose of Korans and will be urged to err on the side of caution when dealing with Arabic texts, assuming “material is sacred if there is any doubt over its religious significance.”

But some experts think the more explicit approach might not stop future incidents. Montgomery McFate, an anthropologist who has worked closely with the U.S. Defense Department, said the issuance of cultural do’s and don’ts was only useful to a point.

“It makes culture into a set of arbitrary rules. You don’t understand why,” she said. “The Bible is not considered itself a holy object, and unless you’d grown up in a religious tradition where that was true, you wouldn’t understand the way that Muslims feel about the Koran.

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8 comments on “(LA Times) U.S. military struggles to teach troops to respect Koran

  1. Vatican Watcher says:

    What is there to understand? Illiterate Muslims in Afghanistan view the Quran as a holy talisman, the Word of Allah printed out and made physical. They get pissed off when their talismans get harmed. This is not rocket science.

  2. frreed says:

    This article, the whole issue for that matter, is such a load of fecal matter. Even when I went to Iraq in 2006 the Marines had several hours of cultural training. Customs and beliefs, including the sacred nature of the Quran, were well presented. We operated regional detention facilities and each detainee received a Quran and prayer mat. Gloves were worn when handling the books and they were treated with honor even if the detainee left is with the rest of his trash after he was released.

    There are two key factors involved here. In this instance the Quran was used for spreading propaganda and inflammatory rhetoric amongst detainees. The books were confiscated after the holy book was defiled. The books were disposed of by burning them, which is the preferred method of disposition. The problem is that this was done in country. They should have put on plane to the U.S. and disposed of in a discrete manner. The US military is acutely aware of the Quran’s significance and, in this case, even the best efforts produced negative results.

    The other issue is that the Quran is sacred when it is beneficial for the radical Islamist. They can desecrate the holy text with inflammatory words and then kill as many Americans as possible when the desecrated books are burned. The problem is not the ignorance or insensitivity of the US military. Rather, it is the demonic zealotry of radical Islam.

  3. Br. Michael says:

    “…the Quran is sacred when it is beneficial for the radical Islamist.” and it is not sacred when they don’t want it to be.

    It’s that simple. And rather than call them on it Obama apologized and threw his soldiers under the bus.

  4. francis says:


  5. Dcn. Michael D. Harmon says:

    Even worse, both the ambassador and the military are talking about disciplinary action, even courts-martial. It is enough to make you sick at heart. Bad enough for our soldiers to be attacked by our enemies, but by those who should be guiding and guarding them? Loyalty works both ways, or it doesn’t work at all.

  6. NoVA Scout says:

    If the troops didn’t know what they were doing and had not been properly briefed on local customs, talk of disciplinary action is preposterous. However, we have heard on this site and elsewhere that there is extensive briefing about local superstition. If they callously failed to observe procedures relating to something so incendiary as burning holy books of the local populace, they recklessly endangered their fellows and the allied nations in Afghanistan. That is no small thing. Finding the facts will be crucial.

  7. Capt. Father Warren says:

    As ususal, when we don’t keep the big picture in front of us, we get lost in the weeds.

    Something on the order of 100 million radical Islamists around the world have but one goal: to re-establish the global Caliphate. Three things stand in their way: Jews, Christians, and Israel.

    When they successfully get us fighting amongst ourselves over a made-up issue, their leaders must be laughing themselves silly over how easy this conquest is going to be.

  8. Cennydd13 says:

    When our own administration bends over backward to placate Islamist radicals by kowtowing to them in promising action against military personnel who may unknowingly do something that these radicals claim belittles their religion, then it is high time for us to take stock of the situation and let the administration know that they are stabbing our people in the back. When a soldier’s morale suffers because of this, there’s always a cause for it. When he can’t depend on his own President to stand in his corner, then it’s time for a change in leadership.