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So which is it, then?

This image has been featured prominently at Yahoo! News since Newsweek retracted the Gitmo Koran-flush story:


And the conflict between these signs has been bugging me for hours now. If the first guy’s sign is to be taken as a call for consequences when the news media is inaccurate, then that totally deflates the second guy’s sign, right? Newsweek was wrong about the Koran desecration, so why should Bush apologize for something that didn’t happen?

On the other hand, if the desecration story were true, as the second guy clearly believes, then by all means his sign would be right. But if so, then why should Newsweek be banned? For exposing the alleged injustice? Does the first guy really want to ban media that break stories he finds important? So now the first guy looks like an ass. These signs just can’t be reconciled.

Unless, of course, all these guys really mean to say is “Marg-bar Amreeka!” If so, I recommend they stick to it. Simplicity begets clarity; the devil lurks in the details.

  1. Danimal says:

    Though apparently they don’t get on you hard enough about “color.”

  2. Timothy says:

    Stan: US English is almost always -ize. They’ll get on you about that in elementary school.

  3. Stan says:

    AFAIK, both -ise and -ize affixes are acceptable UK english. If memory serves, they may be US english too.

  4. Danimal says:

    JS, I don’t doubt that bad things have been done to both Muslims and Korans at Guantanamo, regardless of whether Newsweek had a solid basis for their story. But that’s beside my point: it still doesn’t reconcile these signs.

  5. JS says:

    Or perhaps there are incidents of Koran desecration, other than the one Newsweek “reported” on?

    Via Andrew Sullivan (

    I took the extra step today of contacting an attorney that is representing over ten Guant?amo detainees. He works for a prominent, private, Washington, D.C. law firm, and has visited Guant?amo four times since late last year. All of his clients share the same nationality and, partly for this reason, all of his clients have been kept in complete isolation from each other.

    Seeing his clients is not easy. First of all, it requires a week’s stay in barracks to meet with all his clients for a sufficient amount of time. The barracks are located on the other side of the base from the camps, and the two and half-hour transit time involves a bus and a ferry.

    He must prepare, in advance, a list of which clients he wishes to see, and in what order. Once, he was told that the guards could not locate one of his clients.

    He meets with his clients one-by-one, never in groups. The detainees have had no contact with each other, and no opportunity to collaborate on false allegations of abuse.

    I asked him, “Have you heard any accounts of Qur’anic desecration?”

    He replied, “Yes, two detainees told me completely independently that they had witnessed a Qur’an being thrown in the toilet. Another told me that he had witnessed a Qur’an being stomped on. And another told me he had witnessed a Qur’an being urinated on.”

    He continued, “Most disturbances, like hunger strikes, have been over religious issues, like non-Muslims handling the Koran.” I asked how the guards were supposed to supply Qur’ans to the detainees without handling them? He told me that the Muslim chaplains could provide this service, but there were fewer and fewer chaplains available.

  6. Timothy says:

    Dan: You’re right, my initial suspicions were unfounded. Pictures real, but low quality. I retract my earlier statement that the pictures look fake.

  7. Danimal says:

    Look closer, Tim — the pic has artifacting all over the place. It’s just a low quality jpeg. As for the quality of the text, you’ll notice that both signs carry the logo of the “Raza Academy,” which is apparently where these fellows get their religion on. So they’re probably computer-generated by the academy, then handed out.

  8. Timothy says:

    Then again, scrolling through the rest of the pictures, I think it’s possible that 1) there are a lot of computer-made protest signs and 2) the photographer had a crap camera. It’s weird, though, that the artifacting is only around the letters in the signs.

  9. Timothy says:

    Do the Brits spell “apologize” as “apologise”? I know there are a few instances of such things due to cross-pond differences, but none is coming to mind right now. Still, I think it’s fake.

  10. Stan says:

    Apologise being a perfectly correct (UK) English spelling.

  11. Jan says:

    That’s the first thing I thought when I looked at it, too. It also seems somewhat fishy that the poster writer (I’m assuming somebody translating from Arabic to English) would misspell “apologize” but accurately spell “desecration.”

  12. Timothy says:

    Is that picture fake? There’s some artifacting and the font looks a little too regular to be hand written.

  13. Stan says:

    Maybe they’re complaining about the retraction of the story by Newsweek. Or maybe they’re trying to ensure that there is fair and balanced reporting in their protest signs?

  14. Rock Malibu says:

    Well, don’t forget that in many countries the media is run by the state, so perhaps these protesters assume the same about the U.S. media that it is run by the government. My guess is they were led to believe that Newsweek was complicit in what they reported. I saw the protests on TV this weekend, and I wondered to myself, are all these hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan Newsweek subscribers??

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