Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Media, Middle East — Rick Moran @ 7:17 am

It was an innocuous paragraph in an otherwise routine story about investigating abuses at Guantanamo. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff and John Barry reported that interrogators used various means of psychological pressure on detainees, some of them clearly over the line:

Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur’an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash. An Army spokesman confirms that 10 Gitmo interrogators have already been disciplined for mistreating prisoners, including one woman who took off her top, rubbed her finger through a detainee’s hair and sat on the detainee’s lap. (New details of sexual abuse—including an instance in which a female interrogator allegedly wiped her red-stained hand on a detainee’s face, telling him it was her menstrual blood—are also in a new book to be published this week by a former Gitmo translator.)

What caught the attention of al Jazeera and other Arab media outlets was the flushing of the Qur’an down the toilet. So far, no-one has been able to confirm this story, least of all the Newsweek reporters. But that hasn’t stopped al Jazeera and a host of other anti-American press organs from fanning the flames of hate among muslims all over the world:

The spreading anger comes after a report published by Newsweek magazine said that US interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated copies of the Quran by leaving them in toilet cubicles and stuffing one down a lavatory.

Did the Newsweek story say that interrogators left them in toilet cubicles? No. And there are indications that al Jazeera TV in Afghanistan may be responsible for exaggerating the story:

“After people heard the news that a Quran was set on fire and was thrown in the toilet in Guantanamo by US soldiers they were angered and that sparked the demonstration,” car mechanic Mohammed Nadir, 24, said.

Mr. Nadir got his information from al Jazeera television. And while no transcript is available, one wonders how the idea that the Qur’an was set on fire got into his head. The Newsweek story makes no mention of the Muslim holy book being set on fire. This is pure fiction.

Also, the most widely read English language newspaper in the world, The International Herald-Tribune ran with an exaggerated version of the story:

The protests, as before, were over reports in Newsweek on May 9 that U.S. interrogators at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, placed the Koran on toilets and in one case flushed a Koran down the toilet in order to “rattle” prisoners, a reported act that has angered Afghans more than any other action by American or other foreign troops in Afghanistan in the last three and a half years.

No where in the Newsweek story does it say that interrogators “placed the Koran on toilets.” When even a respected news organ like the Herald Tribune exaggerates a story, one has to wonder at the motives of those responsible.

The protests in Afghanistan began in Jalalabad, a hotbed of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment. They have since pretty much spread across the entire Muslim world:

In three Pakistan cities, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan, hundreds of protesters led largely by religious parties burned American flags and chanted anti-American slogans after Friday Prayer. The protests were peaceful, though, thanks in large part to the large numbers of police officers deployed outside mosques and official buildings.

Hundreds of people gathered peacefully outside a mosque in Jakarta on Friday while a statement was read condemning the United States for the reported abuses. In Gaza, about 1,500 members of the radical Islamic group Hamas marched through the Jabaliya refugee camp as outrage spread over the reports, including a brief item in Newsweek, that interrogators at Guantánamo Bay had flushed a Koran down the toilet in an effort to upset detainees.

Protesters carrying the green banners of Islam and Hamas shouted, “Protect our holy book!” Some burned American and Israeli flags. Anti-American protests are rare among militant Palestinians, who decry American support for Israel but emphasize that their struggle is with Israel, not the United States.

Arab editorial writers have not been shy in expressing their feelings. The United Emerites’ Kahleej Times believes there’s a broader, underlying cause of the unrest in Afghanistan:

This alienation of the majority, the Pashtuns, is at the heart of Afghan unrest. As long as the majority of the Afghan population is kept out of the political process, Afghanistan will continue to remain unstable. The violent demonstrations Wednesday, though stemming from injured religious sensitivities, are an expression of an alienated and suppressed people. The Karzai government and the U.S. would do well to heed the warning signs if they don’t want Afghanistan to go the way of Iraq. At the same time, strong action must be taken against those who perpetrated such outrage against the Holy Book.

And events in that country are starting to move faster than the authorities can handle. President Karzai has admitted his forces cannot handle the demonstrations:

The protesters slammed police for resorting to shooting their weapons and causing bloodshed. “We were staging a peaceful demonstration but police started firing at us without any provocation,” Mohammad Mohsin charged.

Students from three different universities coalesced in Kabul, where law-enforcement personnel had already taken stringent security measures, and marched calmly to Karta-e-Sakhi Square shouting anti-U.S. slogans all along the way.

They demanded that the Karzai government prevent U.S. forces from frisking and arresting Afghans and that it drop plans for a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.

An editorial in the Arab News is incendiary in its language:

If the report of desecration is true, it will be another example of how ignorant and insensitive the US, particularly the US military, remains to other cultures and what those cultures hold most dear. Coming after Abu Ghraib, after all the stories of humiliation suffered by Muslims arriving at American airports and of attacks on Muslims in the US, and given the general hostility toward Muslims in the US and the anti-Muslim mood in certain sections of the US media, nothing could have been more guaranteed to stir Muslim anger across the world. Washington constantly proclaims that attacks on Muslims will not be tolerated and that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam. Evidently, the American institutions are not listening; they are not interested in the feelings and beliefs of anyone other than themselves. It is crass insensitivity. It is also appalling stupidity. The US government has spent hundred of millions of dollars trying to improve its image with Muslims worldwide; a story like this undoes all that work at a stroke. It is also disastrous diplomacy. Washington presumably wants to retain its friends in the Muslim world; something like this actively undermines that friendship

Clearly, there has been some exaggeration to this story by those who seek any opportunity to rally ordinary Arabs to their twin causes of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism. I certainly hope either Newsweek or the Pentagon will be able to confirm or deny this story and soon.

If not, expect much more in the way of protests as pro-jihad forces seek to regain ground they’ve lost since the successful elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq.


It looks like the exaggerated story involving US troops placing the Qur’an on top of toilets in addition to flushing them down the commode, could be the work of our old friends at Reuters.

For a while, I was worried that perhaps the print version of Newsweek carried a little different story. Then I saw this from Roger Simon: in which he links to the very same on-line Newsweek story that I did.

Amazing! All these reporters had to do was google-up “Newsweek Koran flush” and they would have found the original article immediately.


Did Reuters get the part about placing the Qur’an on toilets from AP? Here’s the original AP story (HT: Little Green Footballs)

The source of anger was a brief report in the May 9 edition of Newsweek that interrogators at Guantanamo placed Qurans on toilets to rattle suspects, and in at least one case “flushed a holy book down the toilet.”

As we’ve pointed out in the past, the AP is no more a reliable barometer of what’s happening in the middle east than Reuters. This would tend to prove that assumption.

Cross Posted at Blogger News Network


  1. I think they should have wiped their…nevermind. Al Jazeera should be a military target.

    Comment by Jay — 5/14/2005 @ 12:42 pm

  2. The Koran-toilet story explored and corrected by RWN. Facts never intefere with the anti-American fanatics.The motives of the terrorists in Iraq are confusing to the NYT, probably because they do not fit the leftist rebellion model. John at Powerline de-m

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