Sunday, August 26, 2007

U.S. Drops Blasphemous Soccer Balls on Afghani Children; Muslim Offense Level Raised

When I see a news item like the one below ("Blasphemous Soccer Balls Anger Afghans") I miss the Saudi expatriate who used to publish that great blog "The Religious Policeman." TRP (may he soon return!) used to publish this handy color-coded Muslim Offense Level so that we infidels could know exactly how offended the Muslim world was on any given day. [The MOL is explained here:]

Since TRP has stopped blogging, I will step up to the plate and gauge the MOL myself. Based on the paltry size, non-violent nature, and localized impact of today's demonstration in Khost, Afghanistan, I assess that the MOL is currently ELEVATED. Should the soccer ball riots continue, turn lethal, or spread into neighboring Pakistan, I will raise the MOL to HIGH.

'Blasphemous' U.S. Soccer Balls Anger Afghans

U.S. Official Claims Misunderstanding, Saying, 'We Do Not Want to Offend'

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2007 —

A demonstration has been held in south-east Afghanistan accusing U.S. troops of insulting Islam after they distributed soccer balls bearing the name of Allah.

The balls showed the Saudi Arabian flag, which features the Koranic declaration of faith.
The U.S. military said the idea had been to give something for Afghan children to enjoy and they did not realise it would cause offense.

The soccer balls were dropped from a helicopter in Khost province. Some displayed flags from countries all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, which features the shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam -- the declaration of faith.

The words, which include the name of Allah, are revered, and Muslims are very sensitive about where and how they can be used.

Saudi Arabia has complained to the World Cup's ruling body in the past about the use of its flag on soccer balls.

Mullahs in Afghanistan criticised the U.S. forces for their insensitivity, and around 100 people held a demonstration in Khost.

Afghan MP Mirwais Yasini said: "To have a verse of the Koran on something you kick with your foot would be an insult in any Muslim country around the world."
A spokeswoman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan said they made "significant efforts to work with local leaders, mullahs and elders to respect their culture," and distributing the footballs was an effort to give a gift the Afghan children would enjoy.

"Unfortunately," she added, "there was something on those footballs we didn't immediately understand to be offensive and we regret that, as we do not want to offend."

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