“Captain Vanessa Bowman said the military had been unaware of the sensitivity of the issue.” Indeed. There is so much about Islam and jihad about which they are unaware. And is that really excusable given today’s world climate? An update on this story.
By Hamid Shalizi for Reuters (thanks to JE):
THE US military in Afghanistan has expressed regret over a campaign aimed at winning hearts and minds but which offended scores of Muslims when it dropped dozens of soccer balls bearing the name of Allah and the prophet Mohammed from helicopters.
The idea of kicking something bearing their names is considered deeply offensive to Muslims.
“This ball … carries a message with it which, like an atom bomb, can cause carnage and insecurity in all parts of Afghanistan,” a leading Afghan newspaper, Cheragh, said today.
US troops on Friday dropped dozens of free footballs for soccer-mad Afghan children from helicopters in an area of southeastern Afghanistan, all marked with flags of various countries.
But the balls depicted the Saudi Arabian flag, which features the Islamic declaration of faith and includes the names of Allah and the prophet Mohammed.
Fawad Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Kabul, said: “Americans themselves create insecurity by ignoring religious sensitivity, it is against Islam.”
A spokeswoman for the US military in Afghanistan said the ball distribution was part of a goodwill humanitarian aid mission … for the enjoyment of Afghan children”.
Captain Vanessa Bowman said the military had been unaware of the sensitivity of the issue.
“We do regret any disturbances caused,” she said today.