May 18, 2008

Atheist Condemns Military Quran Target Practice

You may be surprised that it would bother me to learn that a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq was using the Quran for target practice. Knowing that I am an atheist, you may expect me to think that shooting up a Quran or any other "holy" book is a step in the right direction. However, I believe that this incident does far more harm than good. Of course I deny that the Quran is any more "holy" than any other book, and I'd say the same of the Christian bible. But that is not the issue here.

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond issued a formal apology after it was discovered that an American soldier had been using the Quran for target practice.
"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Hammond said to tribal leaders and others at the apology ceremony. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."
The reality of the situation in Iraq is bad enough without the American occupation forces going out of their way to offend the locals. I'm all for highlighting the idiocy of religious belief, including Islam, but this is neither the time nor the place. This sort of thing simply riles up the religious extremists on both sides already insisting that America is engaged in a holy war. As Hammond correctly stated, "I've come to this land to protect you, to support you -- not to harm you -- and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable."

For more on this topic, see Friendly Atheist and CNN.