Press Releases

Gitmo Controversy Prompts Quran Campain

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/17/05) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced at a press conference today that it would offer free copies of the Quran to the American public in response to the recent controversy generated by a Newsweek article alleging that Islam’s holy text was flushed down a toilet.

An item in the May 9 issue of Newsweek reported that: “Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell Newsweek that interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur’an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash.”

Subsequently, with anti-American sentiment already strong in the Muslim world, the report of the Quran desecration sparked protests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Gaza, where 16 people were killed and more than 100 injured, according to news reports.

Although Newsweek has since then retracted its statement and offered an apology, other news reports show that allegations of religious desecration at Guantanamo are common among ex-prisoners and have been widely reported outside the United States. SEE:

In response, CAIR launched a campiagn titled, “Explore the Quran” that is designed to increase an understanding and appreciation of Islam by making copies of the Quran available to ordinary Americans. Muslims are also encouraged to participate by sponsoring copies of the Quran, which will then be distributed to interested individuals nationwide. The $25 packages include a copy of the Quran with Yusaf Ali’s English translation and guidelines on how to handle the Quran.

“In today’s climate of heightened religious sensitivities and cultural clashes, now is the time for people of all faiths to better acquaint themselves with Islam’s sacred text, the Holy Qur’an,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “The ‘Explore the Quran’ campaign allows the book to speak for itself and educate those of other faith traditions about the beautiful religion of Islam.”

Awad said those who wish to obtain a free copy of the Quran, can submit a request at or call 1-800-78-ISLAM (47526). Muslim communities and individuals can donate to the project by visiting the same website. At the press conference, the office of Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) issued a statement praising CAIR’s campaign and condemning the abuse of religion in any form.

Conyers’ statement said, in part: “I applaud CAIR’s ‘Explore the Quran’ campaign, and I plan to introduce a Sense of the Congress resolution later this week to show how strongly I feel about this matter&The administration will have to do a lot more than blame the press to address their problems with Muslims in America and around the world. We have made the job of our enemies all to easy by sanctioning torture&and by white-washing prisoner abuse investigations. We also need to embrace the Muslim people and tolerance if we are truly interested in supporting democracy around the world.”

The council in America’s largest civil liberties group, with 31 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. To read CAIR’s mission and vision statement, go to

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CONTACT: Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail:; Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


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