American Muslims are deeply concerned and hurt by allegations that military guards and interrogators may have desecrated the Quran at Guantanamo Bay, said Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary general of the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North America. But, he added, the distressing situation has had an upside -- Christian leaders from around the country have offered support for America's Muslims and disgust over the allegations. Syeed said the stories about mishandling the Quran are disturbing because the holy book plays a bigger part in the faith and daily lives of Muslims, in general, than the Bible does to Christians. To Muslims, he said, the Quran holds a place of reverence similar to what Christ holds for Christians. "Muslims believe every single word of the Quran is a divine utterance. We recite from the Quran five times a day and it is memorized by Muslims at every stage in their lives," he said.
Syeed said the allegations are painful to him and other Muslims, who share a high regard for Christ, whom they consider a great prophet. "The good thing is that we have been approached by a large number of Christian friends and leaders, here in Indiana and across the country, who have the same disgust and resentment for what has been done," he said. In a statement posted on the organization's Web site, Syeed added desecration of the Quran "goes against the grain of American pluralism and indeed the American spirit of respect for all. The allegations, if true, can only serve to fuel anti-American sentiment, and indeed defeat the bridge-building work with the Muslim world being undertaken by the Bush administration in consultation with Muslim Americans."