Leading article: When will the US learn to take care with the Koran?


The admission that Nato troops at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan "improperly disposed of a large number of Islamic religious materials which included Korans" was never going to pass without incident. Sure enough, riots and demonstrations followed, despite the forthright apology of the Nato commander, General John Allen.

The tragedy is that we have been here before, not least last year when a Florida pastor soaked the Muslim holy book in kerosene and set it alight. At least 10 UN workers were killed in the ensuing protests. Something similar happened after Guantanamo Bay interrogators flushed a Koran down a loo to upset prisoners.

Knowing how incendiary such incidents are, one might suppose that huge care would routinely be taken over such sensitivities, particularly in a fiercely conservative Islamic country such as Afghanistan. Apparently not. Will the US never learn?