FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An American Muslim organization, reacting to controversy generated by the retracted story about the desecration of the Quran, has offered to give a free copy of the holy book to any American. The giveaway, which, depending on demand, could go as high as 100,000 copies, comes after a recent Newsweek article — and its retraction — alleging that the text was flushed down a toilet, said leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We want to turn a negative image into a positive one,” said Altaf Ali, the council’s Florida director. “America’s image is taking a beating, and it’s affecting us all, of different faiths.” Those who call the council’s national toll-free line, 1-800-784-7526, can get a free copy of the holy book, Ali said. Local Muslim communities around the country will be asked to underwrite the campaign.

Dozens of samples of the English translation of the Quran, hardcover and paperback, were on display at the news conference. The Quran giveaway followed Newsweek’s claim in early May that federal officials at the Guantanamo prison tried to flush a Quran in order to demoralize Muslim inmates suspected of terrorist activities. The magazine later retracted the story, saying the report’s unnamed source had retracted his statement, but outrage leading to riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan had claimed 17 lives by then. But the religious leaders noted there have been other reports alleging desecration of the Quran for years. Ali said the council wanted a full investigation of the alleged misdeeds at Guantanamo. “From the Muslim perspective, the Quran is the sacred word of God and should be treated with respect,” he said. (MORE)



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