Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The water (closet) torture 

As American Expat in Southeast Asia, among others, reminds us, the stories of flushed or otherwise desecrated Korans are a few years old now, and he points to a March 2003 "WaPo" article quoting a group of Afghan prisoners released from Guantanamo, who claimed that
American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or dumping their sacred text into a toilet to taunt them.
A way of caution to all the fellow bloggers trying to demonstrate the apparent absurdity of the claim about flushing Koran down the toilet by pointing out that the holy book is too big to fit through the pipes. I don'’t think anyone can assume that Korans were indeed successfully flushed down; it'’s enough for a desecration to occur if the books were merely dropped into a bowl and water flushed over them.

Whether these stories are credible at all I touched upon briefly earlier. If true in any way, the tactic strikes me as stupid and counterproductive. Taunting religious sensibilities of people already thought to be religious fanatics doesn'’t sound like a great way to break them or get useful information out of them.

It'’s true that in the past these and similar stories did not cause riots throughout the Muslim world -– I think the difference is that this time “"Newsweek”" did not report just the claims of detainees but the supposed conclusions of an official American investigation. It is a sort of a backhand compliment both to the Western mainstream media as well as to the American authorities that the assorted anti-Americanists around the world will give them enough credence and credibility while decrying the Great Satan himself (remember, too, the pivotal role that the Pakistani cricketer-turned-opposition politician Imran Khan had played in publicizing the story in the Muslim world as part of his feud with President Musharraf).

In addition, some experts are agreeing with President Karzai that the riots were far from spontaneous, and are pointing their fingers at Caliphate enthusiast called Hizb ut-Tahrir. Coincidentally, this is the same group that the Uzbek dictator Karimov is conveniently blaming for inciting the recent troubles in his country.

The group is not listed by the American government as a terrorist one, mostly because it specializes in political agitation rather than car bombing. Be that as it may, Hizb ut-Tahrir certainly bears watching carefully. Just like the mainstream media.


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