FOR Muslims, the words of the Quran start and complete the day. They are sacred and divine - a revelation of God to the prophet Muhammad. And they are considered spiritually uplifting and rewarding. So a news report that the Quran had been flushed down a toilet as part of an interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba outraged Muslims around the globe. The small story in the May 9 Newsweek was later retracted. The magazine said it could not substantiate it. But the allegation of the Islamic holy book's desecration sparked anti-American protests - some of them deadly - in countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In Houston, the report spurred some anger in the Muslim community, said Rodwan Saleh, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, who fielded phone calls from offended Muslims of many observance levels. "This truly shows that the Muslims, no matter whether they were secular or religious, they will always hold the Quran in the highest regard," he said. Their regard for the Quran is based on its role for the faithful. "It is not like picking up Shakespeare, Moby Dick or some great novel," said Iesa Galloway, executive director of the Houston office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It is the words of God. We are not asking other people to adopt that view. We are asking people to respect what is considered sacred." (MORE)