“Apology accepted” was the tone of religious leaders and some worshipers at All Dulles Area Muslim Society on Friday after a U.S. Department of Defense official apologized for the accidental incineration of copies of the Koran at a NATO airbase in Afghanistan.
As hundreds knelt in the carpeted prayer hall in Sterling, Va., Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific Security Affairs, said that copies of the Islamic holy books were “uknowingly and improperly”disposed of on Tuesday.
“I know apologies are never enough and do not erase this incident,” Lavoy said. “I regret and apologize for this incident...such an incident will never happen again.”
Earlier this week, Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, expressed contrition for the incident, in which the books were mistakenly sent for disposal.
Lavoy said all members of the military are scheduled to recieve additional training in regards to Muslim relations and sensitivity.
“They should have been trained!” Tanvir Qureshi, a native of Pakistan, said at the center. “But if they haven’t, it’s never too late, it can be done now.”
Qureshi said he was impressed by the apologies in recent days from top Obama administration officials. “Very good on behalf of the president,” he said. “We appreciate it even though it was an accident.”
Also at the event Friday, Lt. Col. Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, a Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Army, urged Muslims to forgive.
“We can get caught up in the winds of emotion very easily,” he told the audience.
Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of ADAMS, called Friday’s apologies a “sincere effort,” and said he was optimistic that Lavoy’s words and actions would have a “ripple effect.’’