Wednesday, August 29, 2007

US Military Apologizes To Afghans For Religious Offense Caused By Soccer Balls

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military has apologized for the unintended religious insult it caused when it distributed soccer balls to children in Khost province. Monday's International Herald Tribune reports that at least one of the balls-- made in China and purchased in a market in Kabul-- carried the picture of the flag of Saudi Arabia. That flag features in Arabic the Shahada (Muslim declaration of faith): "There is no god but Allah; and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah". Villagers were upset because they found it disrespectful and deeply offensive to kick a ball that contains a verse from the Quran, the name of Allah or of his prophet. [Thanks to Matthew Caplan for the lead.]