Violence fears over 'urine on Koran'
THERE were fears of renewed violence in Islamic countries after US military officials confirmed that a copy of the Koran was splashed with urine at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terror suspects.
The report said none of the guards at the facility flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet, a claim in Newsweek magazine that provoked protests in Afghanistan.
Among other newly disclosed incidents cited in a Pentagon report on the mishandling of the sacred text at the prison were reports that a detainee's Koran was deliberately kicked and another's was stepped on.
On March 25, a detainee complained to guards that "urine came through an air vent" and splashed on him and his Koran. A guard admitted he was at fault, but the report did not make clear whether the guard intended the outcome.
The findings are among the results of an investigation last month by Brigadier General Jay Hood, the commander of the detention centre in Cuba. The investigation was triggered by the Newsweek report, later retracted, that a US soldier had flushed one camp detainee's Koran down a toilet.
In other incidents cited in the report, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Korans to get wet, and a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Koran.
Hood said his investigation "revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Koran dating back almost 2 1/2 years".
Hood said that of nine mishandling cases that were studied in detail by reviewing thousands of pages of written records, five were confirmed. He could not determine conclusively whether the other four took place.
In the March incident, the guard had left his observation post to go outside to urinate. The wind blew his urine through an air vent into the cell block. The guard's supervisor reprimanded him and assigned him to gate guard duty, where he had no contact with detainees for the rest of his assignment at Guantanamo Bay.
Hood also said his investigation found 15 cases of detainees mishandling their own Korans. "These included using a Koran as a pillow, ripping pages out of the Koran, attempting to flush a Koran down the toilet and urinating on the Koran," the report said. It offered no possible explanation for the detainees' motives.
There are about 540 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Some have been there more than three years without being charged with a crime.
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