[Paleopsych] NYT: Taking Care of the Koran
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Sun May 22 17:03:53 UTC 2005
Taking Care of the Koran
By PETER EDIDIN
In the furor last week over a Newsweek item, since retracted, saying
that Americans at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, flushed the Koran down a
toilet while interrogating Muslim detainees, it was noted that the
Defense Department had issued instructions on the proper treatment of
the Koran. The instructions were contained in a memo released by the
Joint Detention Operation Group - JDOG - to all its personnel at
Guantánamo in January 2003.
Excerpts follow, with the spelling and grammar of the military's text.
To ensure the safety of the detainees and MP's while respecting the
cultural dignity of the Korans thereby reducing the friction over the
searching the Korans. JTF-GTMO personnel directly working with
detainees will avoid handling or touching the detainee's Koran
whenever possible. When military necessity does require the Koran to
be search , the subsequent procedures will be followed.
a. The MP informs the detainee that the chaplain or a Muslim
interpreter will inspect Koran. If the detainee refuses the inspection
at any time, the noncompliance is reported to the Detention Operations
Center (DOC) and logged appropriately by the block NCO.
b. The Koran will not be touched or handled by the MP.
c. The chaplain or Muslim interpreter will give instructions to the
detainee who will handle the Koran. He may or may not require a
language specific interpreter.
d. The inspector is examining so as to notice an unauthorized items,
markings, or any indicators that raises suspicion about the contents
of the Koran.
e. The inspector will instruct the detainee to first open the one
cover with one hand while holding the Koran in the other thus exposing
the inside cover completely.
f. The inspector instructs the detainee to open pages in an upright
manner (as if reading the Koran). This is a random page search and not
every page is to be turned. Pages will be turned slowly enough to
clearly see the pages.
g. The inspector has the detainee show the inside of the back cover of
h. The detainee is instructed to show both ends of the Koran while the
book is closed so that inspector can note the binding while closed
paying attention to abnormal contours or protrusions associated with
the binding. The intent is to deduce if anything may be in the binding
without forcing the detainee to expose the binding, which may be
construed as culturally insensitive or offensive given the
significance of the Koran.
i. How the detainee reacted, observation by other detainees, and other
potentially relevant observations will be annotated appropriately on
the block significant activities sheet as well as staff journal.
a. Clean gloves will be put on in full view of the detainees prior to
b. Two hands will be used at all times when handling the Koran in
manner signaling respect and reverence. Care should be used so that
the right hand is the primary one used to manipulate any part of the
Koran due to the cultural association with the left hand. Handle the
Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art.
c. Ensure that the Koran is not placed in offensive areas such as the
floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas.
a. Korans should be left in the cell as a general rule ..., even when
a detainee is moved to another cell or block. In principal, every cell
... will have a Koran "assigned" to it.
b. If a Koran must be removed at the direction the CJDOG, the detainee
library personnel or chaplain will be contacted to retrieve and
properly store the Koran in the detainee library.
c. If the chaplain, librarian or Muslim interpreter ... cannot remove
the Koran, then the MP may remove the Koran after approved by the DOC
... Place a clean, dry, detainee towel on the detainee bed and then
place the Koran on top of the clean towel in a manner, which allows it
to be wrapped without turning the Koran over at any time in a reverent
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