Monday, June 06, 2005

A bit pissed off.

Looking through the news stories about the Guantamo bay "desecration" incident(s), I could see that confusion reigned. How to present 5 whole incidents separately or together in some summary phrase seemed to be beyond the powers of the media.

Particularly egregious was this Times of India report, which said that 'US military personnel once kicked a copy of the Quran, and subsequently a guard accidentally urinated on it'.

Er, I don't think it was the same Koran, bub, or the fellow it belonged to was having one very bad hair day. And I always thought the educated classes in India were pretty hot with their English.

Continuing the subcontinental theme, this from the Indian Express (sounds kind of fine, don't it?) was far better. You'd expect that all in the country would understand the kind of thing that makes the Muslim masses restive, and would hold back from Imran Khaning the issue.

But yes, I'm coming round to the BBC on this subject, as might be anticipated.

While they are reporting that Sen Biden wants to close Guantanamo down, and Amnesty think it's the gulag of our time (they really ought to get out more- to a psychiatrist's perhaps), they also say 'The comments came two days after the Pentagon admitted that guards at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.'

This is an absurd way to describe the findings of the report in question. The first thing you have to question is the precise meaning of this word 'desecration'. If some similar standard were applied for the Christian church in Britain then shops open on Sunday would be 'desecrating' the Sabbath and shopkeepers would be trembling at the thought of a call being paid by the men from the International Courts. Similarly if the fine spray of inadvertent urination were a 'desecration', then someone ought to stop the vandalism of toilet spaces that is engaged in hourly by men around the globe. If only the Yank had gone 'sitting down' there would have been no problem.

But secondly there was no admission of guilt involved. In fact the opposite. They admitted, to a question that was not asked, that they held the Koran in great respect in all their practises. I am not sure about the notion of desecration in Islam, though I don't know if I care much either, but I know that in Judeo-Christianity a fundamental distinction is made between advertent and inadvertent behaviour. Not to make it here seems either wilful manipulation, or rank dhimmitude.

Of course I'm well-aware that Muslims think the Koran was dictated straight from Heaven, and everything about its treatment needs to be rinky-dinky, but the fact is that (I've a confession to make, I've read the Bible cover to cover three times or more) to read a book like the Koran (which I've also done, though not completely through) requires that it's a bit dog-eared. Not sure about pissing on it, but it slips down the back of the bed, is good for resting hot coffee on, gets a bit damp in the bathroom and is the all time best, guaranteed-death, fly swatter (in this the religious texts are united and inseparable).

Quite frankly I'm amazed how good the US army is, and how utterly respectful of their protocols- and I can't think why our press has seen the need to spoil their knickers over it. Except that, of course, the press (especially the British one) always feels like they're part of some low-grade Hollywood film where the US Government agencies and minions are always the bad guys)

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