A Muslim advocacy group is using this week's furor over a retracted Newsweek report on the Koran's alleged desecration to educate the public about how to handle Islam's holy book. ''Within the Islamic text, there is so much respect for people of other faiths,'' said Altaf Ali, the Florida director of The Council for American-Islamic Relations, which is giving out free copies of the Koran, along with guidelines on its significance. ''We hope people of other faiths will utilize this opportunity to get the book and when they read it, they will see the similarities between the three faiths.''
The campaign comes after Newsweek on Monday retracted an item saying military investigators had confirmed that a U.S. interrogator at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had flushed a copy of the Koran down the toilet. Violent protests resulted in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. There were at least 16 deaths. It is unclear how many can be blamed on the Newsweek report. The protests touched off a nationwide discussion about the treatment of holy Scriptures. Beyond CAIR's campaign, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., drafted a House resolution this week urging that ''holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.''