[Marxism] How those Korans ended up getting destroyed
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Mar 3 07:47:54 MST 2012
(It is worth noting that the pretext for destroying the Korans was that
they were to be used as communications for a prison revolt, a
preposterous notion on the face of it.)
NY Times March 2, 2012
Chain of Avoidable Errors Cited in Koran Burning
By ALISSA J. RUBIN
KABUL, Afghanistan — American and Afghan officials investigating the
Koran-burning episode that has brought relations between the countries
to a new low say that the destruction could have been headed off at
several points along a chain of mishaps, poor judgments and ignored
procedures, according to interviews over the past week.
The account begins about a week before the burning, when officers at the
detention center in Parwan became worried that detainees were secretly
communicating through notes scribbled in library books, possibly to plot
“There was a suspicion that this was being used as a means to
communicate, internal and external,” said the American military official
familiar with the investigation, adding that the fear was that the
detainees might “organize.”
Two Afghan-American interpreters were assigned to sift through the
library’s books and set aside those that had writing that might
constitute a security risk, said Maulavi Dad and other members of the
Ulema Council team who visited the detention center and were briefed by
By the time the interpreters were finished, 1,652 books were stacked on
the floor and tables for removal, including some Korans, many other
religious or scholarly texts, and a number of secular works, including
novels and poetry.
Whether the inscriptions were a security risk is a matter of debate.
Members of the Ulema Council doubted that the writings were anything
other than personal notations, and American military officials and
Afghan security officials were unsure because so many books were
involved that they had not been able to review them all.
“We saw some notes on the margins of the books in which some of the
detainees had written memories of their imprisonment, their name, their
father’s name, location and the place where they were arrested,” said
Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanifi, a member of Parliament from Herat who is a
mullah and was on the Ulema’s investigating team.
He and others said that in some of the books, including Korans, words
were occasionally written in the margins, translations of difficult
Arabic words into Pashto or Dari. “These had nothing to do with
terrorism or criminal activities,” he said.
The American military official did not go into details, but said only
that “we overly rely around here on linguists,” the military term for
interpreters and translators. “None of the U.S. soldiers can read this.”
But the linguists were responsible only for the sorting of the books,
not for the decision to burn them. It was in asking why the books were
not simply stored that one of several faulty decisions became apparent,
the official said.
“You have separated a huge number of books — it will come out 1,652,” he
said, “and those that are in charge say, ‘We don’t have the storage
capacity; this is sensitive material.’ ”
“So the decision is ‘We are going to burn these books,’ ” he continued.
“It is part of their procedures to do that, but there’s a process in
place that that is the last thing. Things should be retained for a
while, but in this case they don’t.”
Sometime on Monday, Feb. 20, the books were transported by a work detail
of several soldiers to the truck that would ultimately take them to the
incinerator. That posed another missed opportunity.
As the books lay in boxes waiting to be piled in the truck, some Afghan
Army soldiers saw them and recognized them as religious books, and they
became worried, Maulavi Dad said. They asked where the books were being
taken and were told by soldiers that the books were destined for
storage. Worried that Korans might be among the books and that something
wrong might happen to them, the Afghan soldiers reported to their
commanding officer, Lt. Col. Safiullah, who, like many Afghans, uses
only one name.
The American military official corroborated that account and said the
problem was that by the time the Afghan officer relayed the concerns to
his American counterpart, who came to check the truck, the vehicle and
its cargo were already on the way to the incinerator.
Both Afghan and American officials believed that the three soldiers
driving the holy books to their destination had little or no
understanding of what they were carrying. “For those three soldiers,
this was nothing more than a work detail,” one military official said.
Just minutes later, when the work detail began to heave the books into
the flames, an Afghan laborer standing nearby offered to help. But when
he drew close, he realized what was happening and began to scream.
For him and others it was a nightmare come to life. “One of my friends
called to me, ‘The Americans are burning our holy books,’ and we rushed
over there,” said Mohammed Zafar, 24, who has worked for five years as a
laborer near the gate.
As the Afghan laborers tried to extinguish the flames with their water
bottles, at least one laborer plunged into the smoldering ashes to
retrieve the books, Mr. Zafar said.
The Americans immediately stopped, but not before at least four books
had been badly burned, according to a notice from the presidential
palace shortly afterward.
What should have happened was far different, Maulavi Dad said. He gently
lifted up his Koran, a beautifully bound one with dark blue
ornamentation, and described the religiously approved way one would
dispose of it if it were damaged or too old to use.
“We have two suggestions: You can cover it with a clean cloth and bury
it on holy ground, a shrine or a graveyard, a place where people don’t
walk,” he said.
“Or you can wrap it and place it in the sea, the river, in flowing water.”
He added, “You see, we believe the earth and the water are the two
cleanest elements on the planet, and since we give great value to holy
books and papers, this is where we bury them.”
Graham Bowley and an employee of The New York Times contributed reporting.
More information about the Marxism