U.S. military confirms Qur'ans were kicked, stepped on and splashed with urine at Guantanamo

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Holy Qur'an
Holy Qur'an

On Friday, the U.S. military released the results of their investigation and confirmed that in 5 separate incidents, American guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison "mishandled" the Islamic holy book. However, they stress that guards were usually "respectful" of the Qur'an.

One incident involved splashing a Qur'an with urine by urinating near an air vent while others involved kicking, stepping on and writing in Qur'ans.

Brigadier-General Jay Hood, the commander of the jail, said that these incidents are the exception to the rule. In a statement issued late Friday, he said: "The inquiry ... revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Qur'an dating back almost two-and-a-half years."

Gen. Hood looked into the allegations, published and then retracted by Newsweek, that American personnel flushed a Qur'an down a toilet. He said that the inquiry did not find any evidence supporting this particular allegation. "The inquiry found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Qur'an down a toilet. This matter is considered closed."

The incidents reported are:

  • a guard kicking a prisoner's Qur'an;
  • Qur'ans wetted by water balloons thrown by guards;
  • a "two-word obscenity" written, in English, inside the cover of a Qur'an. Military officials state that it is equally possible that a guard wrote this in the prisoner's Qur'an or that the prisoner wrote this in his own Qur'an;
  • a guard who urinated too close to an air vent, spraying a Qur'an with urine;
  • an interrogator who stepped on a Qur'an during an interrogation.

The investigation also revealed 15 alleged cases of Qur'an mistreatment by detainees themselves. Detainees used Qur'ans as pillows, urinated on them, and, several times, tore pages out of copies of the books, according to the report. For example, the report states that a guard observed a "detainee place two Qur'ans in his toilet and state he no longer cared about the Qur'an or his religion," on February 23, 2004. It is believed that such behavior is intended to cause disruption and problems for the guards.