[Paleopsych] NYT: Taking Care of the Koran

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Sun May 22 17:03:53 UTC 2005

Taking Care of the Koran


    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
    the Koran.

    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
    manner. ...

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