Members of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor voiced their outrage at the U.S. government and military last Friday in response to Quran desecration and alleged mistreatment of Muslim detainees in American Military detention facilities.
The crowd of about 100 protesters gathered outside the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor and demanded that a commission be created to investigate allegations of torture and abuse. They also demanded that all detainees be given full due process rights and that they either be charged with a crime or be released. Protesters specifically said they want the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba shut down, saying it disregards universal human rights and is a national embarrassment.
“This demonstration is to say we’ve had enough,” said Kristine Abouzahr, the event’s organizer. “Respect Islam; stop the torture and the inhuman treatment.”
According to a report released by the Pentagon last Friday, a copy of the Quran had been deliberately kicked and another stepped on at Guantanamo Bay. One Quran was accidentally splashed with urine when a prison guard urinated outside and the waste traveled through an air vent, landing on a prisoner and his Quran, according to the report. The guard who stepped on the Quran was fired, and the one responsible for urinating on the book was relocated away from prisoners.
Of all the allegations against the U.S. government, Quran mistreatment largely motivated the protesters.
Abuse of the Quran angered Muslims because it has a large part in their beliefs and lifestyle, Abouzahr said, adding that Muslims are very sensitive to mistreatment of the Quran because of its importance in Islam.
“It has a different level for Muslims; it’s integrated into our daily lives. We have a very high sensitivity toward it,” Abouzahr said.
Abouzahr said she was not surprised when hearing about allegations and admissions of Quran mistreatment.
“Right when I heard (about the Quran abuse), I was angry. The sad part is, I expected that. These days we trust U.S. officials to humiliate (Muslims),” Abouzahr said. “It’s another way of humiliation and enraging Muslims. More and more it seems that the war is on Muslims and Islam,” Abouzahr added.
Muhammad Hachimi, an Imam who gives a Friday sermon at the Islamic Center, also expressed his disappointment upon hearing the news.
“What I am angry about is the confirmation of this story. I’d be angry if I heard that anyone touched the Bible. I respect people,” Hachimi said.
On May 9, Newsweek reported that a Quran had been flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo, but the magazine later retracted the article after its source could not be certain he read about the allegations in the Pentagon report he had cited.
Protesters acknowledged that many of the allegations they cited have not yet been proven and stressed that an investigation of all the accusations is necessary.
Regardless of the outcome of any future investigations, the protesters stressed that the Guantanamo Bay prison must be shut down.
“The Guantanamo Bay prison has become a source of shame,” Nazih Hassan, an organizer of the, said to the crowd.
After hearing this, the crowd began to shout, “Shut it down!”