Military Religious Freedom Foundation Condemns Quran-Burning by U.S. Troops

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has issued a statement condemning the incident that occurred earlier this week, in which American troops burned Qurans at Bagram Air Field. President Obama also condemned the burning, and issued an apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The MRFF's full statement is below.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expresses our profound revulsion at the latest and, by far, most egregious expression of Christian supremacist chauvinism and exceptionalism aimed at the people of Afghanistan. The incident, a mass-burning of Qurans and other sacred Islamic material at Bagram Air Base, has had the predictable effect of exacerbating the already-volatile relationship between the United States and our regional allies while also dealing fatal blows to the already maligned reputation of the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan.

This latest outrage is the inevitable outcome of a culture of impunity within the U.S. Armed Forces whereby militant Christian fundamentalism and its attendant Islamophobic racism are coddled and nurtured, resulting in a near-total disdain towards internationally-recognized human rights norms and the values of the Afghan nation. It is no secret that the people of Afghanistan are a proud and deeply religious people, regardless of their attitude in support of or in opposition to the American role in the region. However, the events of the past month have depicted a pattern of surpassing arrogance and unprofessionalism on the part of U.S. military personnel in the country, ranging from the  bestial act of videotaped Marines urinating on the corpses of dead irregulars, to the disgraceful display of the genocidal Nazi SS flag by USMC Scout Snipers.

Incidents such as the foregoing pose a risk, first and foremost, to the lives of Americans serving in Afghanistan. For years we at MRFF have received reports detailing similar incidents which egregiously insult the religious sensitivities of the Afghan population and alienate them from U.S. efforts to establish peace in the region. Hard-fought struggles to gain the trust and confidence of the Afghan people are wholly negated when, as MRFF has reported in the past, local villages are used as the backdrop for fundamentalist Christian reality shows about evangelical missionaries preaching and distributing New Testament Bibles translated into the local Dari language alongside the U.S. Army. Indeed, the militant Islamist extremists’ primary propaganda tool is their depiction of the American presence in the region as one of “Crusader Occupation”. By unceasingly bolstering this narrative, the religious extremists and anti-Muslim bigots within the U.S. military have ensured that U.S. service personnel will continue to pay the awful price for this illegal activity in blood.

As we at MRFF are fond of repeating, “any sufficiently advanced incompetence is completely indistinguishable from malice.” The latest incident in this shocking pattern indicates a demoralization of United States service personnel that has been enabled by a culture which willfully denigrates the crucial strategic need for religious tolerance and respect for human rights, i.e. the foundational principles embodied by the U.S. Constitution which all servicemembers have sworn an oath to uphold. It is incontrovertibly clear that an activist clique within the ranks of U.S. Military leadership is hell-bent not only on sabotaging public perceptions of our mission in Afghanistan, but on causing onerous harm to the core values of the United States of America.

Disingenuous mea culpas excusing these hideous acts as “accidental” or “unintentional” literally strain credulity, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s toothless and oft-repeated promises to launch investigations are now impossible to take seriously. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation repeats that the real-world consequence of this deeply ingrained and pernicious fundamentalist ideology is the loss of servicemembers’ lives and limbs. Thus, we immediately call on the Pentagon to launch a profound and comprehensive investigation of these extremely grievous offenses and to swiftly court-martial those responsible.  The root of this ongoing crisis is the fundamentalist Christian extremist scourge within the U.S. Military. This tragic metastasizing trajectory has led to the sociopathic mindset that non-fundamentalist Christians are unworthy of basic dignified treatment as human beings and that their sacred texts, in this case the Quran, are undeserving of the slightest respect.  

AlterNet / By Staff

Posted at February 23, 2012, 5:03am