The careless handling of the Muslim holy book has sparked protests outside the NATO airbase in Afghanistan. Religious material including copies of the Quran were slated for disposal by burning.
Information regarding the disposal of the religious material varies. US officials say that while some material was incinerated, no Qurans were burnt. The commanding officer Gen. John Allen is in deep damage control, apologizing for the mistake and assuring that a thorough investigation will be done.
Allen is quoted:
"I offer my sincere apologies for any offence this may have caused, to the President of Afghanistan, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan," he said. CNN
The religious material in question had been removed from a prison library and slated for disposal because authorities said that they contained extremist material and they suspected that illicit messages were being passed among the prisoners via the books.
Estimates of the number of demonstrators outside Bagram Airbase vary between 500 and 2000 men. This is a deeply religious nation that handles its sacred books with respect and expects others to do so as well.
Cultural mores vary when it comes to handling of iconic or religious materials. For instance, in the 1960s people were arrested and jailed for wearing the Stars and Stripes. Now many US citizens wear representations of their flag to show their nationalist fervor.