President Obama has issued an apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai after revelations of an accidental burning of Korans at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.
While burning Holy Books is regrettable, I don’t think Obama should have apologized given that it came after a man wearing an Afghan army uniform shot and killed two American NATO soldiers while wounding four others. Is Karzai going to apologize to Obama for that far more serious transgression? Hell no.
I also think an apology is premature without having conducted a formal investigation as to the wherefore and the why. Remember back in 2005 when Newsweek reported that interrogators at Gitmo had flushed a Koran down the toilet? Well, that turned out not to be true and Newsweek had to retract the story.
But let’s say the Korans were burned, even if by accident. While Muslims in Afghanistan might feel genuinely offended it does not give them a right to take the lives of others over it. You might recall there was several days of rioting in Afghanistan last April when a Florida pastor burned a Koran which resulted in the deaths of 30 people including seven UN relief workers. Consider what I wrote at the time:
Let’s suppose for a moment that the Koran hadn’t been burned in that Florida church. Does anyone think it would have abated the anger in the Muslim world one iota? If there are Muslims who are prepared to kill someone for translating a book (let alone writing one); for drawing a cartoon; for making a film; for naming a stuffed animal or for being forced to have sex then something is very horribly worng with how Islam is presently being practiced. In what other religion would such behavior be tolerated much less sanctioned?
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact a Koran was burned inside a Christian house of worship on our soil. As such I would think that it is reasonable to expect Muslims to be displeased with such an act. But I also think it is reasonable to expect Muslims to express their displeasure without committing acts of violence or calling for grievous harm to be done unto others. I think it is fairly safe to say that most American Christians think that burning Korans is a bad thing. With that in mind I further think it to be reasonable to expect Muslims to condemn their fellow Muslims when they commit acts of religious desecration such as when the Iranian regime recently burned 300 copies of the New Testament.
One other thing to bear in mind is that back in May 2009, the Defense Department admitted the military had also burned copies of the New Testament translated into two different Afghan languages at Bagram because they feared the Bibles might be utilized to convert Afghans to Christianity. Of course, if a Muslim converts to Christianity or any other religion they are deemed apostates and their conversion is punishable by death. Frankly, Afghan Muslims (or for that matter Saudi Muslims or Iranian Muslims) are in no position to lecture us on religious tolerance. But yet we refuse to stand up for ourselves and cut off our noses to spite our faces.
In the course of this self-immolation, I cannot help but wonder if the Korans that were burned were mistaken for Bibles.