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Groups Seek Probe of Koran Report

May 15, 2005|From Times Wire Services

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — International Muslim groups and leaders of several predominantly Islamic countries Saturday called on the United States to investigate a report that American troops had desecrated the Koran.

The 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference said it had written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing "astonishment and dismay" over the report.

Newsweek magazine said in its May 9 edition that investigators looking into abuses at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, found that interrogators "had placed Korans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet."

Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with reverence. The report has triggered demonstrations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

The OIC said the report had enraged hundreds of millions of Muslims and would "provide fanatics and extremists with excuses to

It said it had asked the United States to "bring the culprits to justice, to take measures which would appease the enraged sentiments of the Muslim world, and prevent the recurrence of such abhorrent acts in the future."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz expressed "profound shock and dismay" over the report, Associated Press of Pakistan news agency said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, "If proven that this happened, then we will strongly ask the American government to put on trial and punish whoever is the culprit."

The Arab League, based in Cairo, also issued a statement saying that if the allegations panned out, Washington should apologize to Muslims.

In Yemen, thousands of Sana University students demonstrated over the report, chanting "Death to America!"

The students carried banners reading, "We will not falter, we will not tolerate insulting the Koran."

The United States has tried to calm global Muslim outrage over the report, saying disrespect for the Koran was abhorrent and would not be tolerated, and that military authorities were investigating.

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