Protests have been raging in Afghanistan for the past few days, after the U.S. military reportedly burned Korans – along with other confiscated religious materials – taken from detainees at Bagram Airfield. In an effort to restore peace, Obama sent a note of apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai today, assuring him the Koran burning was unintentional:
“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Obama wrote. “I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.”
The president concludes the letter: “The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”
After a fringe pastor in Florida nearly sparked an international security incident by threatening to burn a pile of Korans, you’d think the U.S. military would at least have the proper safeguards in place to ensure this didn’t happen on their bases. As frustrating as it is to indulge the violent tantrums of religious fundamentalists by tiptoeing around their holy laws, if that’s going to be U.S. national security policy then at least make sure it’s carried out properly.
There actually apparently are exceptions under Islamic law permitting Korans to be disposed of through burning, though it’s usually discouraged, reports Slate. Typically, defaced Korans are buried in the ground or in water. I’m not sure how the U.S. military usually does it, though I imagine ritual or water burial aren’t always possible on military bases.