Monday, May 16, 2005

Desecretating a religious book

The accusations that the US soldiers in Guantanamo have flushed the Qur'an down the toilet have sparked anger around many parts of the Muslim world and caused several deaths in Afghanistan on its own. Now in an effort the save face it seems Newsweek will be scapegoated as it has issued an apology for ' erroneously ' reporting that story.

Now why am I not surprised? It does not matter if Newsweek apologises or not, or if the US authorities are 'investigating' these allegations or not. The soldiers and their superiors at Guam are simply doing their job; you did not expect them to be an icon of innocence did you? of course they are going to use every means to 'torture' the fellows there. That's the game of war and a large part of it is won psychologicaly by breaking the person you consider an enemy. Usually if physical abuse and sexual abuse -as was amply demonstrated - doesn't work that well, vilifying what many Muslims hold most sacrosanct is the next step. Why do we think the US investigators would be above such tactics? Still I could be wrong.


The Sandmonkey said...

We may be telepathic when it comes to our topics, but we usually arrive to different conclusions. But that's not necessarily a bad thing now, is it! ;)

Louise said...

And then there's the possibility that the "enemy" knows how to push the right buttons and will exploit the Abu Ghraib fiasco to the hilt. What's a few little white lies, after all? Al Qaeda is just following their training manual. If the looney left and various and assorted useful fools like the editors of Newsweek are chomping at the bit to believe and publicize any sordid story - well - just give them what they want.

Anonymous said...

not at all sandmonkey , diversity is good ;)

Louise does even the wrongly perceived hint of an accusation hurt you? Is it because what happened could be real and hence dirties the image of the heroes? re -read my post please you will find not one ounce of accusation from my view..only speculation and pragmatism on my part that it is a war. war is painful, it kills, it scars, it humiliates and it brings out the darkest ideas in some people on both sides, i just don't see why should we think that US, UN ,Israeli, coalition or any soldiers will be better than Alqaeda, mercenaries, or any other transnational criminals , or even any Arab soldiers in war... everybody commits/committed atrocities against a perceived enemy some just do so more often, and the thing is i can't blame any side really. The only one you can blame at times is the one who holds the moral highground and says 'we' are better then others only to be proven to be just as human as the other. That is when the fall is harder for whatever side.

i think that Newsweek should have just kept their mouth shut on that story whether it was true or not, just so as not to totally ruin the image of their country. if you've ever been in a prison or know someone who survived a prison you will be aware that much worse things go on then desecrating a book...

Louise said...

Not at all, Highlander. This isn't hurtful in the least. It's just that sometimes it takes a little bit of a mind expanding exercise to see that there is more than one possible explanation for things. Many people, perhaps you are one, just lap up the received wisdom without considering other possible explanations. An occasional challenge is good for the mind once in a while.

We agree somewhat on Newsweek. They should have kept their mouth shut, but not for the reasons you state. The only reputation at stake here, is theirs, such as it was. In their gleeful rush to print the latest salacious gossip for the sake of ratings, they've just shot themselves in the foot.
Real dumb.

About your second paragraph: huh??!!

Anonymous said...

Louise, so you call "Al Qaeda is just following their training manual. " a mind expanding deduction? you have you used the same argument that you think I did i.e. lapping up the received wisdom. Perhaps I do Louise , perhaps I do. The thing is you have totally excluded the concept that the news could be true because I assume you believe US soldier are too professional for that looner stuff, and you were irked at Newsweek. While I don't care about Newsweek , and also don't expect the US soldier to be nice to any of the people in Guantanamo whether physically or psychologically not because I think they bad but only because I think they are doing their job to the best of their ability with the end result of winning. Thinking objectively again they can pretty well do what they want who will stop them ?

Louise said...

Highlander, so the phrase "And then there's the possibility" sounds like I've excluded all other possibilities, does it? Hmmmm.

A lot of people are discounting this story because it's impossible to flush an entire book down the toilet, and I agree with that. But there is another version of events circulating and it is this: that pages of the Koran were ripped out and flushed down the toilet. That one is quite possible.

It's also quite possible that an Al Qaeda operative, as they are called, understood what impact such a story would have if the media got a hold of it and that this understanding of how to work the media comes from training he received from the higher ups. After all, if the mass murder of children is an acceptable technique, why would telling lies about their interrogation? There are also stories circulating that suggest just that.

The whole point of my thesis is that the MSM just hasn't figured out yet the full extent of how they are used and, as long as they persist in being either sloppy or naive, they are doing a whole bunch of damage to a whole host of players, not the least of which is themselves.

That they publish it at the same time that the Abu Ghraib story is in the news again and that the Free Muslims group and others are trying to mobilize moderate mainstream Muslims into action belies a colossal degree of ignorance and, perhaps blind, complicity.

I'm off to work now, but if you want me to give you the link to this other take on the story, I'll dig it up and post it here in a day or two.

And btw, I don't agree with those who say it's only a book. That's true on one level, but it's not the fact that pieces of paper with words written on them may have been flushed down the toilet that's the issue here. It's not as if it was an instruction manual for how to put your kid's new gizmo together. Nor is it as if there is only one copy of the Koran in print and now it's gone or that no one in the world knows what was in that book and now it's lost forever. The whole thing is symbolic. It is when important cultural symbols are violated that people get upset.

My argument is with the stupidity of the MSM in publishing a story that will get them into serious trouble, not the least of which is it will likely decimate their bottom line because Americans and other consumers of that magazine understand the consequences of what they have done, while they, apparently, do not. Whether they are reporting truth, or lies, or whether they were duped by well trained Al Qaeda operatives, makes no difference. The MSM is in serious trouble because they just don't get it.

MG said...

" The whole thing is symbolic. It is when important cultural symbols are violated that people get upset"

There is nothing symbolic about it! If they flush a Saudi flag down the toilet... that's symbolic.
Quran is not a cultural symbol... it's the cornerstone of Islamic belief! The core of the Muslims faith is that we believe in the divinity of Quran... we believe that these words are directly from God. So the abuse of the Quran... is a direct slap to any Muslim face because it doesn't only ridicule the religion it ridicules God. And the Muslims shock is from the fact that we believe that its the same God of Christians and Jews (whether you believe it or not)!
Although, fanatics are trying to exploit this incident for their own agenda... it's doesn't undermine its appalling factor in the hearts of every Muslim whether their reaction would be a demand of retaliation, a demand of condemntaion, or just pray that they will burn in hell or just look the other way as pragmatic solution and consider it as an action from bigot minority as we are used on Islamphobes actions! Reactions may vary but it doesn't undermine the severity of the incident.

If the entire situation was reversed i.e Americans were terrorists trying to blow buildings in Arab countries in the name of Jesus... and Arab troops were interrogating some American terrorists and they started flushing Bibles down the toilet to break them up... wouldn't it spark the same dissent within the Christian nations? I bet you won't regard it as symbolic!

Louise said...

Interesting analogy, Magdee. My hunch is there are darn few so called Christians, other than a handful of zealots, who would care. And that's my point. The fact that you can get your dander up about my choice of the word "symbolic" also illustrates my point. The MSM doesn't get it.

If people can have hissy fits over the use and meaning of a simple word like "symbolic", how much more intense are the feelings about a holy book that represents so much to so many. The MSM intense desire to bash Dubya is so rabid, they completely neglect to look around them to see what else is happening and to understand the times in which they live.

AK said...


I do have to disagree on the point, that newsweek should have kept mouth shut whether true or not.

If they are silent about one point, then perhaps they will be silent about others and that is a dark road towards censorship, could end up with censorship of causualties in iraq or Abu Graib or other important issues.

However they should have checked the story more detailed way than they did

Anonymous said...

Louise, I've imported part of my comment with regards to the subject from Sandmonkey's blog :

As for the technicallity of flushing a book down the toilet , it doesn't matter if it got flushed which it may not because it is a BOOK after all but just throwing it in the toilet counts as desecration , that is the point, not the point that if it had actually gone down that drainage system to the please stop the scenarios of having to prove if a book can go down the toilet or not...

And yes I am aware of the other stories on the same subject thank you . My point is (1) if Newsweek was patriotic they should not have reported anything (2) I'm glad they reported though because it may be true and then just shows one what kind of treatment may be expected and the range of respect for cultural, symbolic or core Islam icons. (3) I don't blame the soldiers if they did, because it is not their religion and as I said it is war and war is win or loose, and therefore I am not surprised.(4) I am surprised at the Muslims who rioted for being so 'naive' to think something like this could never happen.
(5) Yes maybe it is a planted story as you say.(6)Past history of US foreign policy shows too many activities which would be called morally unconventional ( in PC word)- at least from the point of view of the received end..

I'm glad you qualified your point though which if I understood well is your anger/disapointed with Newsweek for trying to get at Bush. The part about the Koran being thorn up etc.. did not matter except as a secondary item to this story.

Louise I am speaking about norms of behaviour here, not the act per se. In theory I expect the worst behaviour from military men unless proven otherwise. That is the only safe way to survive.

Anonymous said...

Magdee I agree with your comment. The Koran is held so dear to every Muslims heart be he/she pious or just Muslim by birth , that it has a prized spot in our homes. Not even a scrap , word or verse is thrown, in rubbish or desecrated by any mother if found in newspapers, documents otherwise. The only way to do so in a 'clean' manner is incineration of all those scraps of papers , invitation cards with verses, wedding memos etc....

Alan, yes I expect an honest journalist to report the truth no matter what. The point of view I'm arguing is that as I said to Louise, they should have just shut up to be patriotic. As with regards to casualties about Iraq, like any good 'conspiracy theory minded' Arab, I don't believe we are hearing all the news ;)..on another note where have you been ? The other day a friend of mine asked 'where has you number one fan disapeared ;)?' Good to have you back on the comment section

Twosret said...

Louise said " It's just that sometimes it takes a little bit of a mind expanding exercise to see that there is more than one possible explanation for things. Many people, perhaps you are one, just lap up the received wisdom without considering other possible explanations. An occasional challenge is good for the mind once in a while."

I think Louise you need to read what you wrote and ask yourself have you done that with others on different topics?

Twosret said...


I really find it amazing how people try to reason and understand what "might" have happened and examine every aspect of a story when it comes to the United States of America.

They buy all bogus news from anywhere in the world as long as it supports war and their views.


Louise said...

"I'm glad you qualified your point though which if I understood well is your anger/disapointed with Newsweek for trying to get at Bush. The part about the Koran being thorn up etc.. did not matter except as a secondary item to this story."

No. You did not understand my point. I'll try to make it clearer. First of all, I don't give a rats ass about what Newsweek thinks about Bush.

In greater detail, then, these are the points I did want to make: 1) The media does not understand the Muslim world, 2) if they paid half as much attention to trying to understand the Muslim world as they do to fixating on the blame America for everything line of reasoning, the incident in Afghanistan may not have happened and 3) journalistic standards have declined precipitously and catastrophically in the past generation and this incident is an example of the fallout of that decline. A feeble apology and a withdrawal after the fact is no substitute for failing to first of all verify with several realiable sources and secondly to understand what the consequences might be of publishing what they wrote at this particular moment in time.

There are so many real stories that the western media should be exploring that are left untouched, particularly stories which would shed light on the whole conflict between the West and the Muslim world. Facts that would teach and enlighten both sides in this conflict, but no, that's not gonna sell magazines nor will it create more "if it bleeds, it leads" fodder for their gristmills.

In fact, I think the biggest story currently unfolding is that we could well be witnessing the early stages of the demise of the main stream media, and they haven't understood that either. If they ever do, it may be too late for them to save their sorry asses.

I'm still looking for the website where Al Qaeda's modus operandi has been translated to English, so that I can point to it. When I find it, I will show you what I mean by my earlier statement at Wed May 18, 01:10:01 AM 2005. In my part of the globe, it's very late and I have to hit the sack.

Louise said...

Oh. And this bit: "The part about the Koran being thorn up etc.. did not matter except as a secondary item to this story"

The whole point is, Newsweek failed to verify that, so there is no point going balistic, is there?

Anonymous said...

Yawn Yawn Yawn.......Is this woman for real?!

Highlander said...

Some of my most glaring typos oopsy...
in my 4:15 am comments to Louise
received end = receiving end

4:25 am comment to MaGdee:
any mother = any other person

pls excuse my typos as English is not my primary language and proof reading at 4.00 am ...hmmm guess leaves a little to be desired

Louise said...

Here it is.

Note # 1, # 2 and # 6. It doesn't say IF torture or mistreatment occured, does it? It simply says to make a complaint about mistreatment. Of course a statement that is sure to rouse anger and hatred throughout the Muslim world would be the most useful one to make.

Newsweek apparently did not consider the possibility that the detainee(s) who complained of the alleged desecration of the Koran were simply following these instructions.

So once again, I state my case. Newsweek admirably performed its role as a useful fool. Now there is a new twist to the old mantra out there, and a well deserved one at that: "Newsweek lied, people died."

AK said...


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