Disturbing reports about possible desecration of the Qur’an at the Guantanamo detention center were on again, off again, on again in the recent news. First, Newsweek magazine published a story alleging that a Qur”an had been flushed down the toilet at Guantanamo. The news led to riots and even deaths as Muslims around the world reacted in shock and disgust. Then Newsweek distanced itself from the story, saying they had been misled. And then, in an internal investigation by the military itself, several incidents of abuse, both intentional and unintentional, were substantiated.
Such abuses are bad enough in a detention center where intentional efforts are made to break down and control prisoners. But the attitudes of disrespect that can lead to such abuses are very much in our midst. In North Carolina, the Danieltown Baptist Church posted a sign in front of the church saying: “The Koran needs to be flushed.” When the pastor, the Rev. Creighton Lovelace, was asked about it, he reportedly said, “We just have to stand up for what is right.
“Disagreement, even fundamental disagreement, does not bring with it the right to disrespect the other. Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College, and the imam of the Islamic Center of Rochester writes a thoughtful article on the impact of desecration of the Quran on interfaith relationships.