WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seeking to stem Muslim anger over alleged desecration of the Koran by US troops, on Thursday called disrespect for the holy book “abhorrent” and promised to punish offenders.
Rice used an appearance before a Senate committee to issue a special opening statement addressed “directly to Muslims in America and throughout the world” on the reported incidents at the US ‘war on terror’ prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Disrespect for the holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States,” she said. “We honor the sacred books of all the world’s great religions. Disrespect for the holy Koran is abhorrent to us all.”
Muslims have been enraged by a report that interrogators in Guantanamo placed copies of the Koran in a toilet to rattle prisoners. Seven people have been killed in protests in Afghanistan.
Rice said US military authorities were fully investigating the allegations that have also drawn sharp criticism in Pakistan, a staunch US ally. “If they are proven true we will take approrpriate action.”
She said Americans “share and understand” the concerns of Muslims but added, “I am asking that all our friends arund the world reject incitement to violence by those who would mischaracterize our intentions.”
Rice said religious freedom and protection of a person’s right to worship freely was one of the founding principles of the United States and something taken very seriously here…
In our latest update, Brit Hume reported on Special Report tonight that it was a Gitmo detainee who ripped pages of the Qur’an and flushed it down the toilet in order to clog it in protest.