Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Same Old Song And (Dehumanization) Dance - From 'Charlie' to 'Haji' - ISN Security Watch

"The more stupid shit we do, like shooting up the Koran, the longer we'll be in this country," --Master Sergeant Joseph Kather, US Army reservist

Military officials say the soldier who had fired at the Muslim holy book has been removed from Iraq, though ISN Security Watch was unable to confirm this independently.
Letters From Iraq: From 'Charlie' to 'Haji'

Following target practice with the Koran, US military commanders fear inflamed anti-American sentiment as the pattern of disrespect continues.

By Anna Badkhen in Baghdad for ISN Security Watch (27/05/08)

Before the US soldiers climbed into their Bradley fighting vehicles and took off for a two-hour street patrol in southwestern Baghdad, US Army Sergeant First Class Robert Keith had something to tell them.

"You go into a lot of houses," Keith told the young men standing in the dusty gravel before him. "Sometimes you're on your own. I hope you do the right thing."

He took a short pause and surveyed his troops, making sure they understood the importance of what he was about to say.

"If you pull out a Koran and shoot at it," he told them, "I'll kill you."

Keith was reacting to the latest incident that US military commanders here fear may inflame the anti-American sentiment in Iraq: A soldier from Keith's own 4-64 armor battalion of the Fourth Brigade, Third Infantry Division, used the Koran for target practice this month in the predominantly Sunni Baghdad suburb of Radwaniyah.

The shooting of Islam's holy book was the latest publicized illustration of US forces' disregard of Iraqi, and Muslim, culture. The most infamous episode of disrespect during the five-year war saw US soldiers torture Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison.

But degrading treatment of Iraqis is commonplace among US troops, who typically refer to traditional dishdasha shirts as "man-dresses," and use the word "haji" as a derogatory term to refer to Iraqis the way US soldiers in Vietnam called Viet Cong fighters "Charlie."...

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