Four days ago riots broke out, and have continued, near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The locals are offended that members of the US military burned a Quran, the holy book of Islam. The US explanation is that Muslim detainees at the base were passing extremist messages in the book; it was taken away and mistakenly burned with other rubbish.
Now two US soldiers have been killed by a gunman near the base, apparently in retaliation. The Taliban is encouraging Afghans across the nation to kill Westerners because of this incident.
Thursday President Obama apologized to the Afghan government. He should have done that immediately. It is highly unlikely an apology would have saved the soldiers, but it is still the correct thing to do – in both diplomacy and etiquette.
I do understand the feelings of these Muslims. As a Christian, I would be offended if someone burned a Bible, angry if they burned or damaged a church building. But retaliation does not right the wrong. Ultimately, a book can be reprinted, but a human life cannot be replicated.
Maybe this was the result of insufficient training of the troops or the officers who oversee them. Regardless, these two soldiers did not deserve to die – they were not even the ones involved in the actual incident. As Americans, we must understand that most Muslims outside the US do not look at religion, justice or even issues of right versus wrong in the same way that we do.