Red Cross Reported Allegations of Mishandling the Qur'an

May 20, 2005

Source: The Washington Post

On May 20, 2005 The Washington Post reported, "The International Committee of the Red Cross said yesterday that it repeatedly expressed concern to the U.S. government in 2002 and early 2003 about a series of credible detainee allegations that military guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba had mishandled and shown disrespect to the Koran. Red Cross investigators documented what they considered reliable allegations of mistreatment of the Koran in interviews with detainees during visits to the prison, said ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno. The committee then forwarded its concerns in confidential reports to U.S. authorities and urged action. 'We raised the issues in our reports and verbally over a lengthy period of time. We talked to many detainees, not just one person,' Schorno said. 'For us, what's important is that the detainees' religion and dignity is respected.' The committee said the U.S. government responded with 'corrective measures' in 2003 and the allegations ceased. In late January 2003, the Defense Department spelled out procedures covering the respectful handling of copies of the Koran. The written guidelines say that only Muslim chaplains or Muslim interpreters could touch the Koran, and they offer instructions on how to do it."