Muslim Lives are Descreted, Not Just Their Holy Book

by RAMZY BAROUD

 

The reported desecration of the Quran by US guards at the infamous Guantanamo prison, as originally reported by Newsweek on May 9, 2005, was not–as it should’ve been–an opportunity for a thorough examination of US army practices, and thus human rights abuses, toward Muslim inmates in the numerous detention camps erected throughout the world.

Considering that such practices are quite consistent with the overriding policy adopted by the Bush administration throughout the Middle East, one hardly crosses the border of reason when one expects key newspapers to contextualize the reported flushing of the Quran down the toilet episode with analogous practices in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But as experience has shown, that’s just too much to expect. Instead, the focus of the vast news coverage and commentary throughout the media was fixed on the less urgent matter of journalistic responsibility and the seemingly inherent problem of Muslim backwardness and sadism.

The Times of London made a clever choice when it selected a Muslim, Irshad Manji, to address the fierce response to the scandal.

In an article entitled, “Why don’t we Muslims grow up?” Manji, who seems demonstrably disengaged, found it most appropriate to prompt a discussion in semantics, questioning the wholesomeness and sanctity of the Quran itself. The Quran, according to the writer, “contains ambiguities, inconsistencies, outright contradictions and the possibility of human editing.”

What does this have to do with anything?

The article, also published by the celebrated New York Review of Books, insisted on pinning the blame on the popular and sometimes violent Muslim response to the report, rather than the culminating feelings of anti-imperialist oppression experienced by the poorest of Muslim nations, most notably Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, chose to push the limits of cultural insensitivity to downright insult in his piece entitled, “Why Islam is disrespected.”

Opening his article with imaginary scenarios of Christians, Jews and Buddhists violently rioting in response to the desecration of their religious symbols, Jacoby aims to catch his unsuspecting audience off guard, weaving together a fantastic anecdote and then pronouncing that these stories “never occurred.” They were simply convoluted analogies aimed at enlightening his innocent and naïve readers, to draw a comparison between the barbarism of Muslims and the nonviolent and civilized everyone else.

“Christians, Jews and Buddhists don’t lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don’t call for holy war and riot in the street. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain,” and so forth.

Other commentators who refrained from scrutinizing and exposing’ Islam’s theological limitations or discrediting its cultural practices, rituals, beliefs and so on, confined their arguments to Newsweek’s judgment, or lack thereof, regarding the running the May 9th article.

Some sided with the White House interpretation, as uttered by Press Secretary Scott McClellan, in his call on Newsweek and other media not to lose their “credibility.” Others questioned McClellan’s own credibility. The agreement however, regarding Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker’s clearly forced apology and subsequent retraction of the article was across-the-board.

It’s ironic that Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in fact the one speaking the unexamined words of truth. He said that Army Gen. Carl Eichenberry, the senior US commander in Afghanistan, reported that the violence “was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.”

So to what could it possibly be tied?

Did it dawn on anyone in the mainstream media that the Afghani people might possibly be angry over years of American occupation? Perhaps this failed to cross anyone’s mind.

Could it possibly be that hundreds of millions of Muslims might’ve had enough common sense to connect the dots and to establish that the desecration of the Quran is only the latest episode of a consistent US military policy that hasn’t only dishonored religious symbols but the sanctity of human life, in fact hundreds of thousands of human lives?

Could the hypothesis be true that Muslims, despite their alleged backwardness, had access to TV news, print media and the Internet and might’ve accidentally run across hundreds of vile photos of physically humiliated and sexually abused Iraqi prisoners? Could it be possible that these savages learned of harrowing testimonies of former prisoners at Guantanamo detailing what numerous human rights groups unhesitatingly described as “war crimes”?

But why confine the argument to over-generalized, rhetorical questions? In its response to the scandal, Human Rights Watch issued a statement on May 19, 2005, confirming that sadly, the Guantanamo episode is the norm. “In detention centers around the world, the United States has been humiliating Muslim prisoners by offending their religious beliefs,” according to Reed Brody, a HRW special counsel.

The defilement of religious symbols, like the Quran however, is part of the unfailing US foreign and military policy that has utilized every creative, albeit inhumane option to further its colonial designs throughout the Muslim world for an array of economic and strategic gains.

Thus, if Muslim fury is to be examined appropriately and truthfully, then the desecration of the Quran must be analyzed together with the violent death of “at least” 100,000 Iraqi civilians, the greater majority of them at the hands of the “coalition”, according to “the first comprehensive investigation of civilian deaths in Iraq, published in the Lancet,” and cited recently by respected Australian journalist John Pilger. Separating both issues is downright irresponsible.

But the interest in appropriateness and truthfulness in the media fades away before the seemingly much more compelling and urgent topic of the theological roots of Muslim violence, and the Muslim and Arab minds’ innate deficiency and backwardness.

I am afraid that it will take more than a simple apology or a newspaper retraction to right this collective and perpetual wrong. Much more.

RAMZY BAROUD is a veteran Arab-American journalist and the author of the upcoming volume entitled, “A Forced to Be Reckoned With: Writings on Al-Aqsa Intifada.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future