Thousands of angry protesters gathered outside Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield recently, chanting “Death to America,” firing slingshots, and hurling firebombs at the NATO base in the wake of reports that soldiers had burned a copy of the Koran.
The commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) acknowledged that personnel at the base had “improperly disposed of a large number of Islamic religious materials which included Korans,” and apologized for the incident saying he had launched an investigation, and promising that members will undergo training that will include “the identification of religious materials, their significance, correct handling and storage.” But preliminary information disclosed additional facts, when a military official said some documents appeared to have extremist inscriptions on them, and there was “an appearance that these documents were being used to facilitate extremist communications.”
Consider that in the Islamic community, any desecration of the Koran is seen as an unforgivable affront. In fact many Muslims regard the “Holy book” as the absolute word of God. It is so highly revered that many Muslims will not pick up the holy book without performing a ritual washing of their hands called “ablution.” Consider that radical Islam poses a challenge in the modern world, which is like that of no other radical religious movement. Some time ago, the repercussions from a cartoon controversy led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence resulting in a total of more than 100 deaths, and setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran. In addition be aware of the plight of Ayaan Hirsi Ali a 40-year-old Somali immigrant, former Muslim, survivor of child genital mutilation, and author of books critical of Islam. She now lives her life in constant fear due to multiple death threats.