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Obama Apologizes for Koran Burning; Republicans Quick to Criticize

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While it is understood that, during a presidential campaign emotions run at a fever pitch, I nevertheless have to admit some consternation at the hyperbole and exaggeration that has characterized the current presidential contest. Case in point: the callous criticism of the presidential apology to the Afghanistan president and to the Afghanistan Muslim community for last week’s largely unexplained burning of Korans in that war-torn country

The report from high military sources claims that about 70 copies of the Koran, the Muslim Holy book,were burned by American soldiers  in Afghanistan.  It is alleged that Afghan Muslims detained in the past at the base had used the books to transmit messages.

The issue of the burning of the sacred writings has gone without explanation, either to the Muslim world or to the American people. We are told it was an unfortunate mistake. A number of copies of the Koran are burned in a Muslim nation and we are told it was a mistake? Where is the chain of command? Who authorized the burning?

A NATO task force has yet to confirm that the Koran was burned. NATO authorities concede that the “Islamic materials have been improperly disposed.” US General John Allen said, “When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities; up to 70 books, some of them Korans, are thought to have been burned.”  Allen added, “We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you – I promise you – this was not intentional in any way.”

Most Americans and presumably most American service personnel are aware of the intense importance of the Koran to the Muslim people. The burning of Korans has come up before, and invariably results in a vehement, impassioned response. Burning of Korans always results in a loss of life, a potential prelude to war; yet they are still being burned. Thirty people have been killed since Thursday, when the books were thrown into a fiery pit at Begram Air Field. Protestors are now clashing with U.S. troops and throwing grenades. It is reported that 2000 Afghans chanting “Die, foreigners!” continue in their vigil as news of the incident spreads.

On February 23, President Obama apologized to President Hamid Karzai for the incident, calling it unintentional, and characterizing it as “standard protocol” with contraband. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the apology, which drew immediate criticism from several sources, including some of the Republican presidential candidates. Press secretary Jay Carney repeated that the unfortunate destruction of the Korans was unintentional. He said the presidential apology was wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities involved. He said Obama’s primary concern was, “The safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there.”

Rick Santorum criticized the President for making the apology. He said that Afghanistan should apologize to the U.S. for the deaths of four U.S. soldiers during six days of violence sparked by the incident. He told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning’s This Week, “This was something that happened as a mistake. Killing Americans in uniform is not a mistake. It was something deliberate.” He chastised the presidential weakness, as he sees it, saying, “And for the president of the United States to do what he consistently does, to apologize and show weakness in an area of the world where apologies are seen as an admission of guilt — that was the problem in my opinion that incited this.”

Newt Gingrich, also a contender, called the apology “astonishing and undeserved.” On Fox News Sunday, Mitt Romney said the president’s apology “is very difficult for the American people to countenance.”

As American politicians, these hopefuls might do well to show at least some support for our president and his decisions. Their toss-off cavalier attitude continues to undermine his every step. American relations with the Muslim world transcend politics and should be of paramount importance.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Igor

    My understanding is that prisoners were writing forbidden messages in the Korans and passing them around. Doesn’t that profane the Koran and nullify it’s sacredness?

  • John Lake

    Maybe they considered the messages to be consistent with the will of God. I should say, “Allah.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    John –

    IIRC, “God” and “Allah” are the same word. Also, look up “al-Taqqiyah”, wherein Muslims are allowed to even pretend to be of another faith – worship and everything – if they have to do so in order to protect their own lives.

  • John Lake

    Did you know some Allawites, or Alawi, (like in the Syrian regime) believe if they are good, they come back as Christians? True.

  • John Lake

    I found that interesting. It seems like more of a hiding of ones beliefs, they pretending to be of another school. It seems the Shia is more likely to practice such concealment. The Sunni may find the concealment a lack of confidence in Allah.
    The Muslims also are reminded to be cautious in their associations during such concealment.

  • John Lake

    I should clarify, and provide some corroboration. The Allawite is similar to a Christian in many ways. Similar to the Catholic who sees wine transubstantiated into the blood of Christ. Some Allawite believers think that Muslim who don’t profess knowledge of Christ are merely a cultish sect. The women don’t have souls. The bad come back as animals. The good come back as similar to Christians. But overall, the Allawite religion, like many Christian religions, is loosely interpreted and the individual is free to some leeway, beliefwise.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    John –

    I didn’t know that about the ‘Alawi…and I’d had to research several of the Islamic beliefs for my book, for the main character has to point out the different beliefs and the many conflicts between the Qur’an and the Hadiths/Sunna/Sharia. It’s pretty obvious to me that Mohammed would have forbidden the Hadiths and Sunna (he said “do not write anything of me other than what is in the Qur’an”), and the conflicts between Qur’anic law and Sharia law should be too great for any hafiz to ignore…but this is religion we’re talking about.

    But as you infer, their religion is in many was as fragmented as mainstream ‘Christianity’.