New Delhi: Furious protests have been held outside Baghdad after it was revealed that an American soldier used the Quran for target practice.
The soldier, whose name was not released, shot at the Quran on May 9. The holy book was discovered two days later on a shooting range, by an Iraqi policemen. It was found riddled with multiple bullet holes and with an expletive scrawled on one page, as well.
The soldier, who claimed he did not know he was shooting at the Quran, has now been re-deployed back to the US.
This incident has forced the Commander of the US Forces in Baghdad to formally issue an apology.
Major-General Jeffery Hammond later read out a letter of apology from the soldier, and described his actions as criminal behaviour. Another military official kissed a Quran and presented it as "a humble gift" to the tribal leaders.
“I've come before you today seeking your forgiveness. In a most humble manner, I look into your eyes today and I say 'Please forgive me and my soldiers',” Hammond said.
“The actions of one soldier was nothing more than criminal behavior. And I come to this land to protect you, to support you, not to harm you, and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong, and unacceptable. I have punished this soldier. I have dealt fiercely in punishing this soldier.
“This solder has lost the honour to serve the United States Army and the people of Iraq here in Baghdad. He will no longer be able to do that,” said Hammond in his apology.