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The term "Quran desecration" is defined as insulting the Quran—which Muslims believe to be the literal word of God, in its original Arabic form—by defiling or defacing copies. Intentionally insulting the Quran is regarded by Muslims as blasphemous.
Most traditional schools of Islamic law require wudu (ritual handwashing) before a Muslim may touch the Quran. Muslims must always treat the printed book with reverence, which may even extend to excerpts of text.
Disposal of worn copies is also of concern to Muslims. Because the Quran contains no specifics on how to dispose of a worn or defective text, different and conflicting methods of disposal have been adopted in different regions by different sects. According to Islamic historian Michael Cook the Quran should be wrapped in cloth and buried on holy ground where it is unlikely to be trampled on or "safely" placed where it is unlikely to come into contact with impurity. According to Arab News, Muslims are forbidden to recycle, pulp, or shred worn-out copies of the text; instead, burning or burying the worn-out copies in a respectful manner is required.
Respect for the written text of the Quran is an important element of religious faith in Islam. Intentionally desecrating a copy of the Quran is punishable by imprisonment in some countries (up to life imprisonment in Pakistan, according to Article 295-B of the Penal Code) and could lead to death in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Pakistan.
2005 - Guantanamo
In mid-2005, allegations of deliberate desecration of the Quran in front of Muslim prisoners at the United States military Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Cuba fueled widespread controversy and led to ensuing Muslim riots. A US military investigation confirmed four instances of Quran desecration by US personnel (two of which were described as "unintentional"), and fifteen instances of desecration by Muslim prisoners. According to CBC News, "The statement did not provide any explanation about why the detainees might have abused their own Holy books." In May 2005, a report in Newsweek, claiming that it was U.S. interrogators who desecrated the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay base, further sparking Muslim unrest.
2007 - Nigeria
2010/2011 - United States
In 2010, Christian pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, a church in Gainesville, Florida, provoked international condemnation after announcing plans to burn a Quran on the anniversary of the Islamic terrorist September 11 attacks on the United States. He later cancelled the plans; however, on March 20, 2011, he oversaw the burning of a Quran. In response, Muslims in Afghanistan rioted and 12 people were killed.
In the 2011 Louis Theroux documentary America's Most Hated Family in Crisis, Megan Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church explained in an interview that they deliberately and publicly burned a copy of the Quran.
2012/2015 - Afghanistan
In February 2012, protests broke out in various parts of Afghanistan over the improper disposal of Qurans at the US military Bagram Air Base. Protesters shouted "Death to America" and burned US flags. At least 30 people were killed and hundreds injured. Also,6 U.S. soldiers were killed after members of the Afghan National Security Forces turned their weapons on them and the Afghan protesters.
On March 19, 2015, Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27-year-old Afghan woman, was publicly beaten and slain by a mob of hundreds of people in Kabul. Farkhunda had previously been arguing with a mullah named Zainuddin, in front of a mosque where she worked as a religious teacher, about his practice of selling charms at the Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque, the Shrine of the King of Two Swords, a religious shrine in Kabul. During this argument, Zainuddin reportedly falsely accused her of burning the Quran. Police investigations revealed that she had not burned anything. A number of prominent public officials turned to Facebook immediately after the death to endorse the murder. After it was revealed that she did not burn the Quran, the public reaction in Afghanistan turned to shock and anger. Her murder led to 49 arrests; three adult men received twenty-year prison sentences, eight other adult males received sixteen year sentences, a minor received a ten-year sentence, and eleven police officers received one-year prison terms for failing to protect Farkhunda. Her murder and the subsequent protests served to draw attention to women's rights in Afghanistan.
2012 - Bangladesh
On September 29, an Islamic mob estimated at 25,000 vandalized and torched Buddhist temples, shrines, and houses, along with Hindu temples as incited by an alleged Facebook Buddhist posting of an image depicting the desecration of a Quran. The violence started in Ramu Upazila in Cox's Bazar District and later spread to other areas of Bangladesh.
In March 2013, the al Qaeda English-language magazine Inspire published a poster stating "Wanted dead or alive for crimes against Islam" with a prominent image of Terry Jones, known for public Quran burning events. Iran's news agency, IRIB, reported on April 8, 2013, that Terry Jones planned another Quran burning event on September 11, 2013. On April 11, IRIB published statements from an Iranian MP who said the West must stop the event and warned that "the blasphemous move will spark an uncontrollable wave of outrage among over 1.6 billion people across the globe who follow Islam." In Pakistan, protesters set the American flag and effigy of the US pastor Terry Jones on fire, condemning the 9/11 plan, according to an April 14, 2013 article in The Nation.
In October 2013, a Turkish woman was arrested on suspicion of blasphemy and inciting religious hatred after allegedly stepping on Quran and then posting the picture on Twitter.
Proposals to recycle old Qurans in Pakistan have met with opposition.
On July 31, 2016, a couple of days after the Normandy church attack, several copies of the Quran at the multi-faith room of Mater Dei Hospital in Malta were desecrated when slices of pork were laid inside the book. The perpetrators also left a photo of Jacques Hamel, the Catholic priest murdered during the attack, with the caption "Victim of Islam".
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