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    EX-GITMO INMATES: QURAN WAS DESECRATED - TOP Asif Shahzad, Associated Press, 6/28/05
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2005
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      Asif Shahzad, Associated Press, 6/28/05

      LAHORE, Pakistan - Pakistanis freed from Guantanamo Bay claimed they
      saw American interrogators throw, tear and stand on copies of Islam's
      holy book, and one former detainee said naked women sat on prisoners'
      chests during questioning.

      The Pentagon denied the accusations and said al-Qaida training manuals
      instruct prisoners to make such false charges.

      The men acknowledged that they were aware of the international furor
      caused by previous reports about Quran desecrations. Such reports
      triggered protests across the Islamic world and deadly riots in
      Afghanistan last month.

      Seventeen Pakistanis were freed Monday from a jail in this eastern
      city, where they had been held since their release nine months ago
      from the U.S. prison for terror in Cuba. A Pakistani official said
      each had been "declared innocent by America" and cleared of
      involvement in terrorism by Pakistani intelligence.

      The claims of the men, who spoke to reporters after joyful family
      reunions outside the jail in Lahore, could not be confirmed
      independently. The Associated Press briefly interviewed six of the men
      separately, sometimes interrupted by Pakistani officials who appeared
      eager to keep the men from making the allegations.

      All six said they were arrested in Afghanistan after going there to
      fight the U.S.-led coalition that ousted the hard-line Taliban regime
      in late 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.

      "During interrogation, whenever I would make a reference to the Quran
      they would hit me in the face with a copy. They would tear it into
      pieces. They would tell me that Quran teaches us terrorism," said
      Salahuddin Ayubi, a 31-year-old from Rajanpur in eastern Pakistan.

      "They would throw the Quran against the roof, which would tear it into
      pieces and they would say 'This is the real source of terrorism,"'
      Ayubi said. "This happened several times in my interrogation." (MORE)


      HESHAM A. HASSABALLA, Religion News Service, 6/27/05

      Although many Americans have recently come to learn about it for the
      first time, the desecration of the Quran is nothing new. Islam's
      sacred text has been desecrated for many years now, although not a
      single printed page of paper and ink was harmed in the process.

      The Sept. 11 hijackers desecrated the Quran by their act of mass
      murder in New York City and Washington, D.C. In fact, all those who
      attack and kill civilians in the name of Islam -- some of the
      insurgents in Iraq, suicide bombers attacking a Shiite mosque in
      Pakistan, the bombers in Bali, Indonesia -- all of them, by their
      actions, viciously desecrate the Quran. A Muslim merchant who cheats
      his customers -- despite always taking care to keep the book clean --
      desecrates the Quran.

      Yet, how can this be?

      While technically a book of paper and ink, the Quran is a life-force,
      breathing life into the believer and awakening him or her from a deep
      spiritual slumber. Moreover, the Quran is brought to life by the
      believer who follows its commands. The best example of this is the
      Prophet Muhammad, who was described by his wife as a "walking Quran."

      When someone wilfully desecrates the Quran, he or she manifests a
      deep-seated disdain for the sacred text. Such an act says, "The Quran
      is so meaningless to me that I will burn its pages or urinate on its
      printed words." But wilful and wanton betrayal of the principles of
      the Quran in one's actions effectively does the very same thing.

      The Quran holds all life, but most especially human life, with the
      utmost of sanctity. The Quran says: "Nor take life -- which God has
      made sacred -- except for just cause ..." It also says, "Take not
      life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law.
      Thus doth he command you, that ye may learn wisdom." The verses are
      unequivocal, without condition or qualification. Further emphasizing
      this sanctity, suicide is strictly prohibited: "... do not kill
      yourselves, for verily God has been most merciful unto you. . ."

      This in no ways belittles the incidents of Quran desecration that
      occurred at Guantanamo Bay, and I believe those involved should be
      punished by authorities. Yet, even though I share the anger of Muslims
      across the world over these incidents, I do not believe such anger
      excused the senseless loss of life that occurred in its wake. Such
      violence and death, I believe, is a far worse desecration of the Quran
      than what occurred at Guantanamo Bay, without excusing in the least
      what occurred there.

      Still, the incidents of Quran desecration did have some positive
      outcomes. The American public has gotten an opportunity to learn more
      about the Quran and how important the sacred text is to Muslims the
      world over. In fact, according to the Council on American-Islamic
      Relations, almost 12,000 people have requested a free copy of the
      Quran since May 17. This can only be a good thing. Equally as
      important, however, the incidents of Quran desecration have caused me
      to reflect on the true meaning of the Quran and a deeper understanding
      of what it means to desecrate any sacred text. And I will be all the
      better because of it.

      (Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for
      Beliefnet. His forthcoming book, the "Beliefnet Guide to Islam," will
      be published by Doubleday in 2006. You can read his blog at:



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