The leader of a U.S. Muslim lobby group met with Republican Sen. John Warner this week to demand a full Senate investigation into alleged incidents of Quran desecration.
Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, also asked the Virginia senator to support Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., in calling on the Bush administration to shut down the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Bray contends the Department of Defense’s denial of the May 9 Quran-in-toilet report by Newsweek, which the magazine retracted, contrasts with subsequent statements by both Defense and the White House, acknowledging various allegations.
Bray noted the White House attested to a “few isolated incidents” committed by a “few individuals” such as a soldier deliberately kicking a copy of the Quran, an interrogator stepping on a Quran, a Quran soaked in water, and in one instance, splashed with a guard’s urine.
“None of the above actions are acceptable within the Muslim American community and neither have they been found to be acceptable throughout the Muslim world,” Bray said. “Much needs to be done to ameliorate what has been an American image disaster within the Muslim world.”
Deadly anti-American riots were sparked from Afghanistan to Malaysia to the Palestinian Authority by the news weekly’s May 9 report that U.S. military investigators had found evidence interrogators placed copies of Islam’s holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk.
But the magazine later said its government source indicated he could not be sure that he saw an account of the toilet reference in a military report on abuse at Guantanamo.
Along with an investigation that would punish any wrongdoing, Bray’s group demands creation of legislation and enforcement of existing laws to ensure “future acts of desecration of the Quran, or any other holy scripture, does not occur.”
Bray urged constituents to take part in a “blitz” to call, fax or e-mail Warner’s office.
The Freedom Foundation is the public affairs arm of the Muslim American Society, which calls itself America’s largest grass-roots Muslim organization with more than 50 chapters nationwide.
Bray, who has called the U.S. war on terrorism a “war against Islam,” joined several other Muslims in October 2001 to pray in front of the State Department and denounce U.S. military action in Afghanistan.
His group organized a May 2003 event in which Islamic leaders demanded “an end to the mounting attack on the civil rights of Muslims in America.”
He said at the time, “We must be willing to trust in Allah, intensify our dawah, make our voices heard in the streets, the ballot boxes, the cash registers and the courts, and only then will federal government officials be willing to sit down and deal with us in a serious manner. Short of that, the American Muslim leadership is fooling itself and the community.”
“Dawah” is commonly understood by Muslims as inviting others to Islam, or missionary work.
In his book “American Jihad,” Steve Emerson wrote that at an October 2000 rally, Bray was seen “jubilantly” expressing support for the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, along with Abdurrahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council, who is now serving a 23-year prison sentence on terror-related charges.
Three weeks prior to that event, according to Emerson, Bray played the tambourine as one of the speakers sang, while the crowd repeated: “Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is calling us, let’s all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews [sic].”