US military memo banned Holy Quran desecration at Gitmo
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon issued strict orders in 2003 to US military staff at its Guantanamo, Cuba, naval base detention centre to respect the Quran, local media reported on Tuesday, a day after a US magazine retracted its report that US soldiers had desecrated Islam’s sacred book there.
The Pentagon released a three-page memorandum drafted in January 2003, one year after the first prisoners arrived at the base, on the need to protect Islam’s holy book from placement in “offensive areas such as the floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty (or) wet areas”, according to the text of the memo, published on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
Only chaplains or Muslim interpreters should touch the Quran, after donning clean gloves in view of the prisoner may they handle the Quran like a “fragile piece of delicate art”, the report said.
Muslims working at the Guantanamo base in Cuba should use both hands when handling the Quran as a sign of respect, while favouring the right hand because of cultural associations with the left hand, the memo said.
A story in Newsweek saying that US soldiers at Guantanamo had purposely violated those rules, even flushing a copy of the Quran down a toilet, touched off demonstrations in the Muslim world, killing at least 14 in Afghanistan.
Newsweek retracted the report, after US officials called it ‘irresponsible’ and “demonstrably false”. The Centre for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based lawyers’ organisation, which defends dozens of Guantanamo prisoners, said on Monday that many inmates had religion-based human rights complaints, especially alleged desecrations of the Quran. afp