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The damage-control efforts by Newsweek followed criticism by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who called it "puzzling" that Newsweek, in his view, had "stopped short of a retraction."
"That story has damaged the image of the United States abroad and damaged the credibility of the media at home," McClellan said in an interview. He said that Americans, including President Bush, "share in the outrage that this report was published in the first place."
Whitaker said in the interview that Newsweek is "still trying to ascertain" whether there is any evidence that such a Koran incident took place, as some detainees have alleged. Last year, four former British detainees charged in a lawsuit that Guantanamo guards not only beat and stripped them but also threw prisoners' Korans into a toilet.
Howard Kurtz, Newsweek Retracts Guantanamo Story, Washington Post, May 17, 2005
For centuries, Islamic philosophers have been telling the story of the "Satanic Verses." These are verses that the Prophet Muhammad reportedly accepted as authentic entries into the Quran. Later, he realized that these passages deify heathen idols rather than God Himself. So he belatedly rejected the verses, blaming them on a trick played by Satan. Which means that the Prophet Muhammad edited the Quran.
Let's push the point further. If pious Muslims emulate Prophet Muhammad's life, then those who compiled and organized the Quran's verses after the Prophet's death might very well have followed his example of editing along the way. The compilers were, after all, only human -- as human as Muhammad himself was. Moreover, they collected the Quran's verses from sundry surfaces such as leaves, stones and tree bark. Is it not possible that errors could have infiltrated the process of pulling together the "official" Quran?
In asking this question, I'm not impugning the wisdom of the Quran or inviting another fatwa on my life. I'm suggesting that Muslims have to get comfortable asking such questions if we're going to avoid the further desecration of human life. Jalalabad's riots have resulted in several attacks on innocent people, including aid workers. How does this benefit the cause of dignity -- for anyone?
Irshad Manji, The Riots in Jalalabad, The Huffington Post, May 16, 2005